We all know that the media loves to sensationalize vaping, publishing stories that are exaggerated, misinformed, and sometimes just plain wrong. It’s still disappointingly common for reporters and the scientists and health workers they interview to refer to vaping as “smoking an e-cigarette,” revealing that they have only a thin grasp on what e-cigarettes even are.
If some of the most widely respected and circulated publications in the US still can’t get that major detail right, it should come as no surprise that lesser publications have put out some horribly clueless quotes, stories, and misinformation about vaping.
Today we’re going to share a couple glaring examples of ignorance and misinformation about vaping you can find in the news and online. These stories might make you laugh, they might make you angry, and they might make you lose a little faith in humanity. But in the end, you’ll know a little more about what we’re up against in our efforts to protect vaping as a activity every adult has a right to do.
The Bomb Squad Needs Their Eyes Checked
“E-cigarette device mistaken for small bomb in Lake Township.” Now that’s quite a headline.
To someone who’s never seen an e-cigarette, it could seem frightening. But to vapers or anyone else who has actually seen or handled an e-cigarette, it’s simply baffling. How does someone, especially a bomb squad full of trained professionals, mistake an e-cigarette for a bomb?
Apparently, police patrolling the streets in search of a burglary suspect unexpectedly came across a lone, small e-cigarette that had been lost or abandoned in the middle of the street.
Open this in UX Builder to add and edit contentInstead of recognizing it as an e-cigarette—a widely available, common device that’s an everyday sight out in public—the officers saw that it had a “flashing light,”a battery, and wires, and immediately called up the bomb squad. After an hour and a half and lots of fuss, the bomb squad finally approached the sinister-looking vaping device and “rendered the object safe.”
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time this has happened. An e-cigarette “bomb scare” caused the a public bus to evacuate when a paranoid passenger saw someone cleaning their e-cigarette.
The passenger saw a vaper sitting nearby who “appeared to be attaching pipe-cleaner wire to a large oblong battery,” and still expressed anger toward the innocent man when it turned out to be a common vaping device. The bitter, and possibly embarrassed, McGregor scolded the man for performing basic maintenance on his e-cigarette “with no thought to what it looked like to others on the bus – resulting in a lot of concern and fear.”
Let this be a lesson that you can never be too careful and you can never underestimate the ignorance of others around you. It’s also an important reminder of why it’s so important to educate the general public about what e-cigarettes are. Among non-vapers e-cigarettes not well understood, and the media, politicians, and health officials often give incomplete, inaccurate, and confusing information about the technology.
While an average Joe like McGregor can be forgiven for not knowing better, police officers and bomb squads have no such excuse for their ignorance. Vaping is no longer a “fringe” activity, is extremely common to see in public, and vapor products are ubiquitous in gas stations, smoke shops, and other retail stores. It’s about time that law enforcement got the memo.
The Chicago Tribune: One Puff on an Ecig = Many Cigarettes Worth of Nicotine?!
The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a local vaping seminar for teens, but it seems the reportery didn’t learn much from the lesson.
The article doesn’t make it past the fourth paragraph without committing the standard foul of mislabeling vapor as smoke, stating that vaping is “the term used for smoking e-cigarettes [emphasis added].”
Later, it quotes one of the students in the seminar (simply referred to as a Maine South senior) who claims, “The amount of nicotine I was smoking was 12 ml. That’s a lot of cigarettes per each pull out of the vape.”
Wait, what? Go ahead and read that quote just one more time. There are so many things wrong with this statement, it’s hard to even know where to start.
First of all, the amount of nicotine contained in e-liquid is measured in weight (mg or milligrams), not volume (ml or milliliters) as the Maine South senior said. A 12ml bottle of e-liquid is made up of only a small proportion of nicotine, which is always labeled on the bottle in milligrams.
Second, it would be almost impossible for one pull on an e-cigarette to equal the same amount of nicotine that you’d get from one cigarette, let alone “a lot” of cigarettes, as the Maine South senior claimed. It’s difficult to say exactly how many puffs on an e-cigarette equals one cigarette, but studies show it takes a lot more than that.
One study found that it took an e-cigarette user 35 minutes to absorb the same amount of nicotine that a smoker absorbed after smoking for just 5 minutes. This was even using an an eliquid that contained 18mg of nicotine, which is considered a relatively high nicotine strength even among experienced vapers.
That means it took seven times longer to get the same amount of nicotine from puffing on an e-cigarette! Therefore, it’s pretty safe to say that it would be more or less impossible for one puff on an e-cigarette to equal even one cigarette, and the high school student’s claim that one puff equals “a lot” of cigarettes is way off mark.
We can give Maine South senior a bit of a break for not knowing what he’s talking about; after all, he is just a teen. However, the claim is so clearly outrageous that there’s a good chance even the teenage audience he spoke to could see right through it.
But the adults leading the panel and reporting on it, however, have no excuse. They should have known better than to repeat something so obviously, ridiculously wrong.
Teen vaping should certainly be discouraged, and that’s why it’s already illegal nationwide for anyone under 18 to buy e-cigarettes. But teens deserve honest, straightforward facts, not lies and exaggerations meant to scare them straight.
Ignorance and Misunderstanding Breed Fear
Even when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s always another anti-vaping activist with only a thin grasp of what e-cigarettes are who’s out there happily spreading lies. It’s part of a blind crusade to demonize vaping in the US that disregards the differences between smoking and vaping and the potential e-cigarettes have to revolutionize tobacco harm reduction efforts.
Ignorance often comes from fear and a lack of understanding about something new, but if more people actually understood what vaping is and how the technology worked, they would be less vulnerable to the lies.
If you have friends, family, or acquaintances that believe the myths and misinformation in the media, make sure to steer them toward resources where they can learn more about e-cigarettes and what vaping is really about.