In June 2019, a paper by prominent US academics found that people who used e-cigarettes were at greater risk of a heart attack. The authors concluded that e-cigarettes were just as risky as tobacco in provoking heart attacks, and that using e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes at the same time was even riskier. Unsurprisingly, this caused a stir in the media – in the form of 35 news stories, to be exact. Also unsurprisingly, it provoked vigorous scientific debate. Eight months later, the paper was retracted.
When a paper is retracted it means we can’t trust its results. It’s like being unpublished. The problem is, the paper still exists – it’s in news stories, it’s on social media, it’s in documentaries. Smokers see these stories and increasingly think e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking. That’s a problem because smoking is deadly.
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