Paris children used as pawns in EU e-cigarette battle

(Thanks to Aaron Frazier who pointed the way to a post by Sylvain Filatriau).

A new study out of Paris is about as badly (falsely) titled as this post about it.

In the Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases, Dautzenberg et al. author a study called E-Cigarette: A New Tobacco Product for Schoolchildren in Paris. What I learned from this title was that 1. e-cigarettes are a tobacco product! and 2. e-cigarettes are produced for schoolchildren in Paris!


Actually, the article is a little more restrained than the title.

3409 Paris school children were asked “have you ever tried an e-cigarette?” Fair enough but this does not distinguish among those who tried one puff and handed it back and those who, if there were any, were daily users. The results as reported:

277 (8.1%) of the 3409 schoolchildren studied (including 575 non responders to this question) reported having had an experience with e-cigarette. Experimentation rate is 6.4% among the 12 – 14-year-old, 11.8% among the 15 – 16-year-old and 9% among the 17-year-old schoolchildren. Among the 12 – 14- year-old schoolchildren, 64.4% of e-cigarette experimentation was by non-smokers. Of the 17-year-old teenagers who had used e-cigarettes, 12.4% were non-smokers. For the whole population, 33.2% of those having tried e-cigarette are non-smoker, 22.7% occasional smoker, 3.6% ex-smoker and 40.4% daily smoker. Those who experiment cannabis, shisha or binge-drinking are more frequently users of e-cigarette.

What Dautzenberg et al. concluded from this was:

Conclusion: For teenager’s, e-cigarettes have become not a product to aid quit tobacco but a product for experimentation and initiation of cigarette use. Regulation is urgently needed to control the emergent use of this new tobacco product by children.

What I learned from this was that the authors were able to determine without any longitudinal arm in their study that the e-cigarette experimenters were going to end up as cigarette smokers. Again, wow!

But I have to question why any product would serve as a quitting aid for people who are not at the stage of life where they are quitting anything. And as for there being a link between using cannabis, shisha, binge drinking and e-cigarettes – the simplest observation could be summed up as “those kids who like to try some new things will try other new things”.

Concluding that regulation is required to limit the exposure of children to nicotine products is something that everyone pretty well agrees on and in many places this is either already the case. Where it is not actually on the books, most vendors restrict their sales to adults.

Overall though it is no surprise that experimentation of youth with e-cigarettes will grow as they gain popularity in general. Kids will try everything that is out there whether is it e-cigarettes, their parents’ Nicorette, or even their parents’ cars.

Successful harm reduction applies to experimentation too. Better that kids try something that is 99% safer instead of cigarettes. And if a child is going to take up smoking anyway, the earlier they switch to a safer product the better.

These experimentations do not justify limiting availability of the product to legitimate users. The state has no right interfering with my joy of drinking Scotch because some kid steals from their parent’s liquor cabinet or my nicotine because some child steals a cigarette from their older brother.

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  • Michael J. McFadden  On March 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    It always gets me angry when I see them play with statistics. :/

    ” Among the 12 – 14- year-old schoolchildren, 64.4% of e-cigarette experimentation was by non-smokers.”

    Duh. Yeah. Because 64.4% or more 12 to 14 year olds ARE non-smokers. So if they’re going to pick up an e-cig to “experiment with it” you’d find that sort of proportion.

    If they’d extended the study they probably would have found:

    ” Among the 6 – 8- year-old schoolchildren, 98% of e-cigarette experimentation was by non-smokers.”

    But that would have been a bit too obvious to pull off as a magic trick no matter how gullible the rubes were.

    – MJM

    • Paul L. Bergen  On March 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Good point re the proportion of non smokers at that age.

      • Michael J. McFadden  On March 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        The trick is to ALWAYS look at virtually every WORD that comes out of an Antismoker’s mouth to see if it could have been twisted to make a lie. You’ll rarely be steered wrong. They’re almost always either some form of True Believe or some form of gutter-thief (i.e. The Greedy) and they feel no compunction at all about lying in order to either save you or steal your money.

        – MJM

  • Michael J. McFadden  On March 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Oh, and then there’s this: “e-cigarettes have become … a product for experimentation and initiation of cigarette use.”

    Really? Their study showed that? Funny, I don’t see anything in the body of what’s here at least to indicate that they studied non-smoking e-cig experimenters to see if they went on to “initiate cigarette use” in any way differently than non-smoking non-e-cig-experimenters.” Was that in the study? Or are they just making things up as usual?

    – MJM

  • Chris Price  On March 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    It’s a contest to see if our EU junk science, lies and propaganda (JSLP) can beat your US JSLP. This new French study puts us clearly in the lead.

    Beat that!

    • Paul L. Bergen  On March 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      You might mean my Canadian junk science….as in anti-smoking propaganda we are also front runners in that area!

    • Michael J. McFadden  On March 5, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Chris, sorry. You spoke a day too soon. A US Rep came out today and supported a tax on bicycles because cyclists were producing CO2 when they rode and are destroying the earth! Seriously.

      Although *I* think the guy is just pulling everyone’s leg. The sad thing is that virtually every single commenter on the news story at: is taking him seriously. Of course in a world where Al Gore blames global warming on smokers it really IS hard to tell!

      – MJM

  • Michael J. McFadden  On March 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    btw… did you notice that these schoolchildren included little boys and girls up to 20 years old? (Though not INCLUDING 20 year olds of course… by that point they’ve graduated to being “young adults” I guess.)

    – MJM


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