Published on February 7th, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
The misinformation campaign against vaping has been a long-standing battle that seems to finally be working for the public health advocates that have been utilizing this tactic.
Forbes is reporting that general mistrust of vaping amongst the public has been rising over the last five years.This comes on the heels of various studies, which we have reported on before, that states that vaping is a healthier and safer alternative to smoking. Even landmark reports, such as the one from the Royal College of Physicians, are stating that vaping is 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes.
But the public seems to be paying more attention to government reports, such as the studies released by the US Surgeon General’s Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even those studies subsidized by the FDA. These studies are the most highlighted and picked up by mainstream news outlets, such as CNN, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, and more.
These studies, and indeed the mainstream articles that reported on them, are full of misinformation, already debunked facts, or even skew information to reach a conclusion not supported by evidence in the research.
Some examples of this include the Surgeon General’s own report on teens, youth, and vaping. This report claimed that vaping is a “gateway drug,” a term designed to scare parents and members of the public, to traditional cigarette smoking. However, the study neglected to measure how many students in high school vaped regularly, how many had switched from vaping to smoking, or even how many had stopped smoking altogether and just vaped at the end of the study.
Additionally, in 2016, the Huffington Post had to make several corrections to a video interview done with none other than Dr. Margaret Cuomo, the sister of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, that made false claims that were quickly debunked. Cuomo, among other things, stated the false claim that vaping is “at least as harmful to your health as a regular tobacco cigarette.”
These false claims have been reiterated by various research groups, many of whom have studies that are subsidized by their country’s governments and therefore cannot be seen as independent studies of the effects of vaping.
More troubling, however, is the fact that the mainstream media is repeating these claims with no thought to do research on their own on the veracity of the statements made from any one study. Many news outlets run with the misinformation campaign first and only issue retractions or edits to their studies if and when the public complains of misreporting.
A great example would be the CNN article that first reported on the US Surgeon General’s report on teens and vaping. The article, which is titled “Surgeon General Sounds the Alarm on Teens and E-Cigarettes” and can be found here, has a host of debunked claims and even cites a teen as an expert without providing credentials to her expertise. The article goes on to highlight the study’s findings, which are incomplete and of little value, that says that vaping can and does lead students to regular cigarette smoking.
Another recent example would be the study from Virginia Commonwealth University. Professor Stanton Glantz, who works for the University of California at San Francisco, claimed that the paper showed that experimenting with vaping at a young age causes teens and young adults to take up cigarette smoking. There is no evidence anywhere, including that study, that supports his claim.
While it’d be easy for this publication to dismiss all studies and researchers as being part of the misinformation campaign, it is simply not the case. There are dozens of researchers all over the world who are doing their part to make public health a priority in their country.
However, a large group of the public health advocates who are against vaping in any sense of the term seems to have an ideological zeal about nicotine-abstinence. This zeal, however, is having the opposite effect that these advocates want.
The people that could be saved from smoking by using vaping as a nicotine replacement therapy are losing access to vaping and therefore continue to smoke.
The sad truth of the matter is that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking. While not all of the long-term effects of this smoking cessation method is known yet, it is already a better way to quit smoking than any other nicotine replacement therapy on the market.
But while public health advocates still continue to sow seeds of mistrust and misinformation around vaping, the battle to make vaping an accepted smoking cessation method in the country will continue to be uphill.