“‘VAPING from electronic cigarettes could be as bad for the heart as tobacco’ screamed an alarmist headline syndicated across a wide range of Australian news services recently,” writes Colin Mendelsohn on the Doctor Portal. “Unfortunately, these misleading headlines are all too common and confuse the public about e-cigarettes, a potentially life-saving treatment.”
He points out how the hysterical caption originated from a tiny and poorly planned study - or perhaps it was designed this way purely with the intention of generating a ridiculous yet media-friendly conclusion.
“Half of Utah students who report using alcohol are also vaping,” Utah’s Deseret News cries. It tells us how “Davis High School students Jono Rees, Allison Anderson and Carson Robb are working to create a club at the Kaysville school to help fellow students avoid vaping called SAEV — Students Against Electronic Vaping.”
There are worrying words from the Utah Department of Health spokesperson, and a cardiologist wibbling about a possible gateway effect. The pair of them would be perfectly happy to remove a 95% safer option and leave students to experiment with tobacco instead. Tucked right down at the bottom of the piece is a single point of balance and reason: “The researchers noted that nonsmoking high school students are ‘highly unlikely to use e-cigarettes’. ‘It shows this whole gateway theory is false, Frazier [Utah Smoke-Free Association] said. ‘It doesn't exist’."
Over in Stanford, the Scope blog trots out more of the same nonsense: “E-cigarette brands make unvalidated claims their product helps people quit smoking”. It quotes a doctor Robert Jackler and says: “that among leading e-cigarette brands, 22 of 23 used cessation-themed advertisements,” but they don’t “say what they work for exactly”. It’s utter nonsense given the evidence we have to hand – it’s misinformation with the sole intention of putting quitters off using vape products.
No wonder Jamie Hartmann-Boyce writes in The Guardian: “Why can't scientists agree on e-cigarettes?” As she logically sifts through the topics related to vaping in her readable piece, she comments: “We’re bombarded with stories about these products, but most just add to the confusion, with perceptions of vaping risks rising year on year. Just recently the Sun informed us that experts are saying ‘e-cigs are just as bad for your heart as smoking fags’, but read a couple lines down and you’ll find other experts reasserting the claim that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than tobacco. So which is it? Why can’t the scientists agree? And will they ever?”
The answer is probably that the scientists do agree on the evidence, but those in the pay of pharmaceutical companies will never admit to it in public. Meanwhile further confusion is sown in the minds of current smokers, and their access to harm reduction blocked as a result.