A July 13 article on electronic cigarettes summarized a study in Italy and claimed a high percentage of smokers in the study quit smoking using e-cigarettes (“Up in vapor”). As a student of community health education and an intern at a local public health nonprofit, this caught my attention.

After reviewing the study, I drew some different conclusions. About 40 percent of participants failed to attend their final follow-up visit, which definitely affected the result. Often participants in tobacco studies are too embarrassed to come to the final appointment if they did not quit smoking.

Of those who did attend, 26.9 percent reported that they successfully quit smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. The researchers stated that this was possibly due to the individuals’ increase of confidence in themselves rather than the actual e-cigarette itself.

Another important result is that the researchers did not find any significant improvement in blood pressure or resting heart rate in any of the three groups (even though 26 percent quit traditional tobacco cigarettes).

It is common knowledge that these measures should improve very soon after a smoker quits using tobacco. It’s critical to review the original studies to understand the actual methods, data and conclusions, rather than only relying on the news or media for interpretation.