E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

INSIDER Hit Piece on Vaping Is Clear Example of Media Misinformation

INSIDER, one of the world’s largest online media outlets, recently published a “medically reviewed” editorial on vaping which claims that it’s essentially just as bad as smoking.

As relentless as e-cigarette opponents are in their quest to render vaping obsolete, they could never achieve as much as they have over the last few years without the help of mainstream media. Pushing misinformation and scaremongering through scary articles with ominous titles is one of the most effective ways to influence the general public’s perception, and it has been working wonders in the case of vaping.

The latest Eurobarometer survey revealed widespread ignorance about electronic cigarette use, with a whopping 65% of respondents convinced that e-cigarettes are just as harmful as tobacco smoking to the health of their users, despite scientific evidence showing the exact opposite. The same trend was observed in the UK, where authorities have been much more progressive in regards to vaping as a safer alternative to smoking, as well as in the United States.

So why is that? If science shows that vaping can be up to 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that it can help people quit, why do people think the opposite? Well, it has a lot to do with articles like the one recently published by INSIDER. The advent of smartphones has made news widely available to just about everyone, and that has given the media a lot of power over the public. Sadly, with vaping, media giants have always been on the other side of the barricade.

So let’s take a look at the hit piece produced by INSIDER. Titled “Vaping may be just as harmful as smoking — here are better ways to quit nicotine for good” it opens with three ominous subheadings that read:

– Vaping is not better than smoking and it still causes long-term lung damage;

– Side effects of vaping include shortness of breath, nausea, and chest pain;

– To quit smoking, avoid vaping and instead try Chantix, nicotine replacement therapy, or counseling;

Most readers don’t even look past the title and subtitles, so you can imagine what their takeaway is. Sadly, even if they have the time to go through the actual article, their perception of vaping is unlikely to change much.

Osita I. Onugha, a thoracic surgeon with Providence Health Services, in Santa Monica, California, is quoted as saying that the assumption that vaping is less harmful than smoking is demonstrably false, and that the fact that there is little scientific evidence to back that up is only due to the fact that vaping is relatively new compared to smoking.

Dr. Onugha’s claim is misleading, as although vaping is indeed much newer than smoking, it is already one of the most studied social habits of our times. There are plenty of studies, medical trials and scientific reviews that confirm vaping as a much safer alternative to smoking. Still, the medical professional believes otherwise.

“If you look at vaping, we have this early data suggesting there are health risks associated with e-cigarette use,” Onugha says. “So would I be surprised if 20 years from now we demonstrate that prolonged e-cigarette use can cause cancer? No, I would not be surprised at all.”

Moving on, the article mentions that studies on the long-term effect of e-cigarettes on human health are still emerging, and notes that the results of animal studies cannot be extrapolated to humans. Then it goes on to mention two mice studies in which the rodents were exposed to e-cigarette smoke for several months and either suffered lung damage or had an increased risk of developing cancer. If these studies cannot be extrapolated to humans (and they can’t), then why even bring them up?

The article does make some concessions though, well, sort of… It admits that e-cigarette vapor contains less dangerous chemicals – far less would have been much more accurate – than tobacco smoke but then goes on to say that less chemicals doesn’t make it safer than smoke. Actually, according to tobacco harm reduction, yes it does, the same way smoking two cigarettes a day isn’t the same as smoking two packs of cigarettes.

It also acknowledges that some studies have found vaping to be more effective than traditional smoking cessation methods, but notes that one such study, funded by pharma giants Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, found that 80% of the people who had managed to give up smoking with e-cigarettes were still vaping a year later, which is obviously bad since vaping is just as harmful as smoking.

“E-cigarettes have been marketed as a way to help people wean or stop cigarette smoking, but essentially you’re trading one problem for another,” Dr Onugha says.

And as if all of the above wasn’t bad enough, INSIDER also mentions the EVALI epidemic, ignoring all the scientific facts, and even the CDC’s late acknowledgement that the serious lung condition was NOT caused by regular nicotine-containing e-cigs, but by vitamin E acetate and other toxic compounds in THC-containing products. We already knew that the public perception of e-cigarettes was affected by EVALI and its consequences, but this article just adds fuel to the fire for no reason other than to slander vaping.

“The EVALI outbreak primarily affects young adults, is driven by the use of THC-containing products from informal sources and is strongly linked to vitamin E acetate,” the CDC website states. “THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged frequent use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping products.”

Unfortunately, not many people, if any, bother to fact check, especially when it concerns information from reputable sources, and INSIDER should qualify as such. And that’s how vaping gets thrown into the same bucket as tobacco smoking. People read filth like this and they assume it must be true, because a large publication like this wouldn’t lie. Plus, it’s “medically reviewed”, remember?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do, but call out such hit pieces as the BS they are and encourage people to fact check and do their own research rather then trusting the media to have their best interest at heart. Media corporations are privately owned, use private funding and sometimes serve an agenda. That’s just the world we live in.

Top photo: Chiara Summer/Unsplash

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