CoEHAR exposes for the first time that most e-cigarette research is flawed and in urgent need of critical reform

CATANIA, Italy, March 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Mistakes are very common in e-cigarette research, resulting in misinformation and distortion of scientific truth. What are the most common flaws in e-cigarette research?

Under the direction of CoEHAR, a team of international researchers, reviewed the 24 most frequently cited vaping studies published in medical journals. The results are shocking: almost all of these studies turned out to be methodologically flawed; they had no clear hypothesis, used inadequate methodology, did not collect data relevant to the study objectives, and did not correct for obvious confounders.


The results of scientific research must be methodologically valid and sound for public health policies to be implemented. Current research on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products is widely acknowledged to be poorly designed, conducted and interpreted. Therefore, it is impossible to generate balanced and accurate information for the adoption of more effective tobacco control policies and healthier lifestyles. The spread of inaccurate information about non-combustion alternatives in the media contributes to public skepticism and uncertainty, especially among smokers. Many smokers may therefore be discouraged from switching to less harmful nicotine delivery products.

A group of international experts collaborated with scientists from CoEHAR, the Center of Excellence for Accelerating Harm Reduction at the University of Catania, to publish an in-depth critical assessment of the most cited e-cigarette research studies. The research paper entitled “Analysis of common methodological flaws in epidemiological research on electronic cigarettes“, published today in Internal and Emergency Medicine, exposes the most common mistakes made by researchers when studying the health impact of non-combustion nicotine delivery products.

Under the direction of Dr. Cother Hajat of United Arab Emirates University and Prof. Ricardo Polosa, founder of CoEHAR, study researchers analyzed the 24 most popular vaping studies published in authoritative medical journals. The researchers noted a plethora of fatal flaws in these studies; they accurately identified, categorized and analyzed each error.

The authors conclude that the most influential research on e-cigarettes is of inadequate quality and insufficient to guide public health decision-making and they offer practical recommendations for improving research in this area.

Most of the included studies used an inappropriate study design and did not address the research question they set out to answer. In our article, we offer practical recommendations that can significantly improve the quality and rigor of future research in the field of tobacco harm reduction..” explains Dr. Hajat

According to Professor Polosa: “Systematically repeating the same mistakes that result in uninformative science is the new pandemic! I am amazed that such low quality studies have been subject to editorial review in prestigious scientific journals. The credibility of tobacco control scientists and their research is at stake.

This researcher-initiated study was sponsored by ECLAT srl, a spin-off from the University of Catania, with the assistance of a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Inc.

Center of Excellence for Accelerating Risk Reduction

The CoEHAR of the University of Catania is the first multidisciplinary university center in the world to tackle risk reduction. CoEHAR’s mission is to accelerate efforts to study and reduce the health impacts and deaths of tobacco use globally through the use of pharmacological approaches as well as innovative technologies.


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