In recent weeks it has felt like the vaping industry has entered a time warp, like we have rewound 6 years. Vaping has been the topic of news once again and the headlines have been misleadingly bleak. But the UK is currently leading the way with positive vaping news.
We are once again seeing an influx of poorly researched and inaccurately portrayed anti-vaping stories hitting the front pages. But this time the discussion surrounding these stories in the UK has shifted, and respected public health commentators have provided a backlash against erroneous reporting. Media channels that were once quick to believe the negativity, now seem to be more critical of the front pages. More open to informed discussion.
This Morning talks vaping
On September 25th ITV’s This Morning programme ran a piece on ‘Is It Safe to Vape?’. The response was refreshingly positive and honest.
BBC Radio 4 and PHE on Vaping
On September 26thBBC Radio 4 ran a piece on ‘How safe is vaping?’. Featuring John Newton Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, he said:
We’ve never said vaping is without risk, but it is much less harmful than smoking tobacco. The advice remains, if you are a smoker, it is definitely within your interest to switch completely to using a vaping product. The cases in the ’states are still being investigated, but they do look to be related to the use of illicit or homemade vaping liquids.
This is an extremely balanced and interesting listen. It addresses the disparity between countries and how they have responded to these reports in recent weeks.
You can listen to the segment here, starting at 1:23:00: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0008p2h
How Countries Respond to Negative Vaping News
This is giant leaps away from how some around the world have responded to these stories. India as an example have implemented an immediate ban on vaping. A country where an estimated million people each year die from smoking related diseases.
In the USA, where the incidents in these stories actually happened, some states are banning any form of flavoured vaping products. This doesn’t include tobacco flavour. It is unfortunate that perceived issues with youth uptake of vaping seem to have become conflated with serious health threats associated with illegal drug use. Somehow the knee jerk reaction is to ban products that have been legally supplied.
Vaping Advocates in the UK Speak Out
Vaping advocates have been quick to defend vaping. To reassure over 3.5 million e-cig users in the UK to remain calm. Not to get swept up in the hysteria.
Martin Dockrell, Head of Tobacco Control at Public Health England (PHE), said:
A full investigation is not yet available but we’ve heard reports that most of these cases were linked to people using illicit vaping fluid bought on the streets or homemade, some containing cannabis products, like THC, or synthetic cannabinoids, like Spice. Unlike the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and they operate the Yellow Card Scheme, encouraging vapers to report any bad experiences.
Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh has warned of irresponsible reporting and its effects:
All the evidence to date suggests that illicit marijuana vaping products (THC oils) are the cause. In particular, a compound called tocopherol acetate may be the culprit. Authorities who are reacting to these cases by advising no one to vape are by default sending the message to people who have quit smoking through vaping that they should return to tobacco … which we know carries multiple risks to health.
The positive vaping news coming from the UK is a breath of fresh air. Every time these stories hit the headlines, with little context, in the hopes of selling news, there is a potential vaper who is turned away from making the switch from smoking to vaping.
We hope to see more positive vaping news over the coming weeks, to further cut through the noise and negativity that is sweeping through the tabloids.