Vaping News

BBC Gets Vaping Wrong

CBBC’s Newsround has carried a piece about vaping and, unfortunately, it got its facts wrong

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Lots of people are concerned about the number of children in the UK using vapes, CBBC’s Newsround states, and it seeks to explain to children why. Unfortunately, the show misrepresents facts and delivers bias information to its audience. This isn’t the first time BBC has done this as 5Live’s Breakfast show continually misrepresents vaping and puts anecdotes before evidence.

Newsround’s clip begins by showing a disposable vape, saying “you might have seen one”, and then continuing to explain how vapes work.

Many vapes can contain nicotine – something which is also found in cigarettes. They can also contain many other harmful chemicals,” the presenter says.

Educating children about vaping – and why they shouldn’t do it – is a good thing, but we’re 28 seconds into the coverage and we’ve already deviated away from facts.

The false equivalency of equating vaping to smoking by linking nicotine simply isn’t right. It works on the automatic (and wrong) assumption that nicotine causes tobacco related disease and death – it doesn’t, as explained by many public health bodies.

Secondly, “many other harmful chemicals”? This builds on the assumption that nicotine is harmful when used normally. Also, there is no evidence of long-term harm from any legal MHRA registered ingredient.

The reporter goes on to cite the recent NHS figures for the number of children vaping, but she doesn’t explain the difference between ever having tried one and regular use – nor the breakdown of the kind of children regularly vaping. Overwhelmingly, according to Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK, these teens are current smokers or have used vaping to quit smoking.

Continuing the BBC’s tradition of anecdotes over evidence, the journalist speaks to a handful of children.

The kids say children are vaping because they “curious about it”, “to see what it tastes like”, and “to give it a try”.

The BBC says that 40% of kids vape “to give it a try”, but the recent Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report highlights “The proportion vaping ‘just to give it a try’ has gone down since last year”. Plus, “the majority had only vaped once or twice” ASH adds.

Dr Ian explained what the dangers are to young people: Vaping can be “damaging to the lungs and airways”.

Next, the BBC lays into the “colourful packaging, some even comes with cartoons on, in a variety of flavours.”

Vape companies have been accused of deliberately targeting children,” it adds.

Hazel Cheeseman from ASH told CBBC: “These disposable products are brightly coloured, they come in lots of sort of exciting flavours, and those have become really, really, popular over the last two years.

“For us that really points to where the Government can take action. They could pass rules to make them less appealing, take the colours away, they could put tax on them to make them harder to buy.”

Once more, the Bloomberg narrative is allowed full flow and no mention is made of the unintended consequences of restricting vapes, eliminating flavours and making them more expensive on adult smokers. The BBC is allowing concern about a very small number of teens to trump the potential benefits to millions currently risking contracting smoking related cancer.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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