Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon and, as with any new piece of technology, has inspired its fair share of controversy. Much of the bad press circulating around vaping is founded in the fact that not everything is known about the use of e-cigarettes. However, because of this, fake news has sometimes found its way to the surface, inciting panic about the safety of e-cigarette use. Whatever your stance on vaping, the dissemination of fake facts is harmful to any industry and vaping has seen an unfair backlash as a result of misleading statements and figures. To shed light on this situation we’re comparing articles that are factual and informative, against those that are simply misleading. Read on to see our breakdown of what has a basis in fact and what is just hearsay.
Fake news articles
Fake news is usually written in a way that deliberately avoids explicitly defining the finer details of the topic of the article. For example, The Ashtray Blog points to an article on the prevalence of dripping amongst teenagers, which not only used false figures but also did ‘everything they could to make “dripping” sound like a form of drug abuse [whilst] every piece of coverage did a monumentally awful job of explaining what dripping actually is.’ This type of evasion is typical of biased reporting, which tries its best to avoid facts and figures that don’t support the view it’s trying to put forward. Another typical tactic is using evasive language to say something without explicitly stating it, e.g. using words such as ‘could’.
An article by NBC2 titled ‘Toxic ‘dripping’ latest trend for teens‘ is such an article, using emotion and poor research to flesh out an article on the fad of dripping amongst teenagers. Beginning with the line, ‘Your child could be “dripping” – and it’s extremely dangerous’, the article does its best to incite panic amongst its readers that vaping is a harmful thing to do. Using quotes from a doctor who makes non-committal statements such as ‘could increase the chance’ and ‘maybe see more’ is a good indication of the strength behind the case it’s trying to put forward. In addition to this, the writer of the article includes just one doctor’s opinion on a scientific topic, and then includes quotes from mothers of local children who, understandably, are expressing concern on a topic they know nothing about.
However, the most shocking aspect of this article is that the author describes dripping as the action of ‘dropping e-cigarette liquid onto the hot coils of the device to produce more smoke and flavor.‘ What dripping actually is, is directly applying e-liquid to the coil and wick within the e-cig whilst it is at room temperature. This soaks the wick, enabling you to happily vape away. However, as dripping means you have to build a custom atomizer and wrap and connect a coil yourself, it seems a little far-fetched that this is a habit many teenagers will have taken up. The research this article uses also bases its study on the usage of tobacco; which e-cigarettes don’t even contain.
Bad articles continued . . .
Another source that’s just as ill-informed comes from a press release on a study concerning the bladder cancer risk that e-cigarettes pose. An abstract piece of research, this quickly gained global headline coverage because of the scaremongering way in which the research was carried out and then relayed. Though we haven’t been able to find the actual study itself, working from the insight of Dr Farsalinos, of e-cigarette research, reveals a few interesting facts.
One of the first things he notes is that the study only has a small amount of participants, with 13 e-cigarette users being the maximum. Usually this would be a sample number, in order to begin a hypothesis. Here, however, this is the maximum and final amount of e-cigarettes users examined, meaning the researcher makes a generic statement for all e-cigarette users on the basis of only 13 people. The study states that,
‘Urine from 92 percent of e-cigarette users tested positive for two of the five carcinogenic compounds.’
But it also makes clear that the e-cigarette users were formally smokers who only claimed to have finished smoking just six months previous to the study. It seems quite unlikely that all the participants would have been able to quit cold turkey from smoking so abruptly when most e-cigarette converts get rid of cigarettes gradually. For a detailed breakdown of the flaws in this report see our dedicated article: Vaping and Bladder Cancer – The Latest Scare Story Explained.
News articles you can rely on
The key here is to not believe everything you read, which is often easier said than done. When reading an article on a topic you care and wish to know more about, make sure the article comes from a reputable source, that it is factual and doesn’t manipulate research to suit the viewpoint it’s trying to get across. If you’re concerned about whether or not e-cigarettes are safe then looking to trusted medical companies is a good place to start. For example, we looked at an article by Cancer Research UK; ‘New study comes the closest yet to proving that e-cigarettes aren’t as dangerous as smoking’. This article presents a balanced argument, acknowledging that trustworthy research has struggled to keep pace with the popularity of vaping, whilst nodding at their high levels of safety in comparison to traditional cigarettes.
For a trustworthy overview of vaping this article is definitely one to consult. It refers to a range of studies from reputable sources such as Public Health England and is unbiased in its approach. It also directs the reader to resources to help them stop smoking and clearly states that ‘there’s still as big misconception that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking’.
Another reputable source is the BBC, whose article ‘More than half of UK vapers have given up smoking’ addresses a few things, such as the decrease in smokers in the UK, alongside the rise of e-cigarette users. They also state quite clearly that vaping is much less harmful than smoking – a fact we’ve known for some time now. The article is balanced and doesn’t scaremonger or present a bias towards either side of the for and against arguments. For a more thorough breakdown see here.
What do you think about fake news articles and have you come across many about vaping? Let us know in the comments section.