SFATA’s Media Checklist for Reporting on Scientific Studies of Vapor Products
Questions/Comments to be Considered by Journalists
The following questions are key to understanding the scope and impact of a paper:
- What does the paper claim?
- Do the methods and the data support the claim?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the study?
- How does the information in this paper comport with other research, survey findings, and the experience of vapers?
- Is there consistency between the conclusion, abstract, and full body of the paper?
Specific questions to ask depending on the study:
What is the chemical profile of vapor products?
- If a given chemical of concern is reported as present in vapor, what is the concentration?
- How much of the same chemical is present in cigarette smoke? [i]
- Are you comparing comparable typical patterns of use?
- 1 usage session
- 1 cigarette
- 1 vaping session = approximately 10-15 puffs
- 1 day of use
- 1 pack of cigarettes
- Vaping pack-a-day smoker equivalent = approximately 225 puffs [ii]
- 1 usage session
- For any chemical of potential concern, what is considered a toxic dose?
- How much of the chemical is consumed from other sources as part of daily life activities such as eating or breathing ambient air?
- If referencing nicotine:
- Moderate levels of nicotine use have been deemed by the FDA to be “safe and effective” within the context of pharmaceutical NRT’s (nicotine replacement therapies) [iii]
- Vapor companies have broadly adopted child-resistant packaging on e-liquid bottles to help prevent unintended consumption of high levels of nicotine [iv]
- E-liquid contains from 0% to 5% nicotine content. 95%-100% of e-liquid is propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavoring.
How effective are e-cigs for smokers interested in switching to vapor?
- Does the article differentiate between “switching” vs. “cessation?”
- The FDA intends “cessation” and “quitting” to refer to pharmaceutical NRT products and these terms are inappropriate to be used in describing consumer vapor products. [v]
- The FDA has suggested vapor products can be a “substitute” for smokers. [vi]
- What is the efficacy of the vapor products for adult smokers interested in switching to vapor? [vii]
- The cessation efficacy of NRT’s is approximately 3%, although this can be higher with intensive behavioral interventions. [viii]
Who is the vapor product consumer?
- Is it noted that vapor products are only intended for adults? What is the role of flavors?
- E-liquid contains nicotine but typically no other components of the tobacco leaf, and so there is no such thing as “unflavored” e-liquid. Many vapers do not want e-liquid that that tastes like a cigarette, and flavors are intended for these adult vapers. This is similar to other adult products such as fruit flavored vodka. [ix]
- A survey of adult vapers indicated that restrictions in flavored e-liquid availability would likely cause them to become smokers again. [x]
- Vape shops, which stock the widest selection of flavored e-liquids, are strictly age-gated facilities. For instance, more than 1,300 companies participate in SFATA’s Age to Vape retailer age verification program. [xi]
- Vapor trade associations such as SFATA support prohibitions against using copyrighted characters and logos to market vapor products.
- When citing population studies, such as PATH (Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health):
- In the population studied, to what degree is the consumption of vapor products contributing to the diminished use of combustible cigarettes? [xii]
- In the population studied, is any gateway effect (conversion from vaping to smoking) substantiated with evidence or simply mentioned as a potential concern? Is the evidence consistent with vaping being a gateway away from, or protective against smoking, as suggested by the recent PATH study? [xiii] [xiv]
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to facilitate an interview with a scientific thought leader to provide background, context, or help interpret the significance of a research paper.
Appendix: References Cited
[i] Talhout et. al., “Hazardous Compounds in Tobacco Smoke” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084482/pdf/ijerph-08-00613.pdf
[ii] Robinson et. al., “Electronic Cigarette Topography in the Natural Environment”, PLoS One, 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4460076/ (see figure 5)
[v] FDA Proposed Guidance, “Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding “Intended Uses,” Federal Register, 9/25/2015. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-25/pdf/2015-24313.pdf
[vi] FDA Proposed Guidance, “Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding “Intended Uses,” Federal Register, 9/25/2015. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-25/pdf/2015-24313.pdf
[vii] Farsalinos et. al., “Characteristics, Perceived Side Effects and Benefits of Electronic Cigarette Use: A Worldwide Survey of More than 19,000 Consumers,” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4025024/
[viii] Mead et. al., “Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation,” Cochrane Reviews, 2012