The Two Faces of Vaping

Posted 8th June 2017 by Dave Cross
Will we ever see an end to the dichotomy of vaping being presented as either resolutely harmful or beneficial? Tobacco-harm reductionists already temper their advice by pointing out the limitations posed by adopting vaping, but the media is yet to catch on and adds shades of grey to its polarised view of the technology.

If there’s one thing that The Sun is not known for then it’s not moderation in its reporting. With a grabby Gotcha headline and a focus on the salacious, Sun articles are all about eliciting basic emotions. This holds true for the paper’s coverage of vape stories, and is definitely the case for the one it tells about Ellie Petty.

Ellie is 32, has a relationship, works in IT and is a busy kind of person – we know this because she drives places at a nippy 70mph while chatting away on her hands-free telephone. Indeed, she is too busy to carry out any research when starting vaping or to place a loose battery into a protective case.

The inevitable happened.

“Yea they're pretty deep 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Yea they shouldn't be allowed to carry on manufacturing such deadly weapons,” she told her friends on a Facebook post. They encouraged her to make her post public so that everybody would be able to see how dangerous vaping is.

When advised about battery safety and turning her mod off when not using it, she said: “My batteries weren't in my vape so turning the vape off wouldn't have done anything. Pretty impressive the amount of warnings and instructions with a tv / laptop / microwave / fridge freezer etc and sweet FA with a grenade in your pocket! It was a literal pocket rocket with nothing on the battery or on the packaging. Awareness should be spread and UK laws and legislation tightened and literature contained within purchases.”

While the newspaper may have given her side of the tale, the journalist chose to ignore the sage advice Glynn Root, manager at the Vaping Lounge in Gosport, wrote on her timeline: “Battery safety is key and good quality batteries at that. Keep batteries in a silicone sleeve or plastic cases at all times if not in the device. As a shop owner myself, it's the seller’s responsibility to stock decent batteries and to educate the customer on battery safety. All our batteries are provided with free cases or silicone sleeves and a brief battery safety talk. Given the bad press vaping is getting because of the lack of education around battery safety and people getting hurt I'm very passionate about this as this blows away the positive vaping stories about how vaping has helped millions of people kick the fags.”

Glynn is absolutely correct, the exciting explosion stories mask all of the good news coming from the likes of Carol Starkie and Elvis Burton. Carol was advised that she’d lose a foot if she failed to quit smoking while Elvis was told he was heading for a heart attack.

Thanks to vaping Carol has managed to give up a 50-a-day habit and her partner has noticed a real improvement in his health. It’s a fantastic tale of tobacco-harm reduction – but remains the type of story The Sun doesn’t see fit to print.

Ellie Petty images from Facebook

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker