category factcheck
score Contortion 🟥🟥🟥🟥🟧
claim "Smokers relapse from E-cigarettes"
author American Medical Association / John P. Pierce, PhD
tags ['third-party-fact-check', 'not-quitting', 'pr-study']


Relapse-affine smokers didn't succeed proportionally more with e-cigarettes

To validate pretext claims that e-cigarettes were unfit for smoking cessation, the study authors misrepresented already misconstrued results. It relies on counting relapse as one or two later puffs from combustibles. In reality the abstincency rates didn't differ much from other quit options in the cohort.

This was the earlier of two analyses of PATH data from J.Pierce. The second lead to similar CNN outbursts.


    Throughout the article and in his public comments, Pierce referenced smokers “who switched to e-cigarettes.” That is misleading. PATH collects information on aids that former smokers used to quit (here) The only information Pierce et al. reported was whether former smokers at Year 1 were using or not using e-cigarettes/tobacco. By ignoring the quitting information, they undercut the positive results for e-cigarettes and distorted the public health message.
    The press release badly misreports the study findings. It says that ‘smokers who quit but substitute e-cigarettes are more likely to relapse’, but this cohort study found no such effect. Smokers who quit unaided and those who needed e-cigarettes to help them quit did not differ in their relapse rates!

phrase check

The press release isn't all that interesting. The framing wasn't as pronounced here:

there have been few studies on whether smokers are able to transition 🟧 There's a few more.
e-cigarette use—even on a daily basis—did not help smokers successfully stay off cigarettes. 🟧 Misrepresented findings
e-cigarettes or other tobacco products 🟫 Misclassing
pattern of chronic quitting 🟨 Makes me wonder if they prescribed ATF ecigs


The misrepresentation is mostly down to press releases and media interviews again. It was widely dissipated, apostling by Glantz validate the lack of academic candor; ergo "Mostly False".