There are so many thing involved in the e-cigarette debate. And whether you are for or against electronic cigarettes, you still want the most honesty in the news and headlines you receive. Unfortunately, news makes their money through advertising– and that means they want as many viewers, readers, or clicks as possible. To get that they need headlines.
E-cigarettes have been at the receiving end of some pretty big punches in the media, but once you investigate further, not all the headlines are really what they seem. Here, we will examine four common news headlines in regards to e-cigarettes that seem to be stretching the truth just to create a good story.
1. E-Cigarettes are a “gateway drug” for Youth Tobacco Use
Recently, in April 2015, the CDC released a report and press release regarding the issue of youth e-cigarette use. What they have found was a sizable increase in youth vaping. From their press release, they found that students who tried e-cigarettes went from “4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students. Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students.”
Clearly there is a sizable rise in the use of e-cigarettes, but what the press release fails to mention is the decrease in traditional cigarette use among youth. In fact, when you chart the rise of e-cigarette use with the fall in traditional cigarette smoking you will see just how the progressions mirror each other.
In addition, the simple truth is that e-cigarettes are still a relatively new product, and of course use is going to rise among all users, youth and adults, as the devices become more popular and more readily available. That is just simple economics. A sharp incline in use of a new and popular is common in any market.
Another aspect of the youth e-cig use myth is that e-cigs are the gateway to not only other substances but to a lifelong nicotine addiction. Studies, however, seem to point to an obvious truth; Teens that experiment with e-cigs are already experimenting with other substances too. A recent study in the journal BioMed Central Public Health, the researchers delved into the cause of teen e-cigarette experimentation. The study showed a connection– that teens who experimented with e-cigs also experimented with other substances, like alcohol.
Teenagers who drank alcohol were “significantly more likely” to have used e-cigarettes. This does not suggest that e-cigarettes lead to bad behavior, but that they are more popular among youth who are more apt to experimentation. Truth be told, while no one wants teens to use e-cigarettes, the studies seem to suggest they would try regular cigarettes, and other potentially dangerous substances regardless of whether e-cigs were an option or not. E-cigarettes haven’t been around long enough to even gauge whether or not they could be a contributing to factor to a long term nicotine addiction, so there is literally no way to prove gateway theory claims.
2. E-Liquids are Causing Huge Surges in Poisoning Cases
Since e-cigarettes have become more popular, the concern for e-liquid poisoning is very real. The rates at which they are reporting e-juice poisoning cases, well that may be a bit out of proportion.
All responsible vapers know that you keep e-liquids stored safely and securely, and out of the reach of little ones if you have them. This should be enough to solve the poisoning problems, but accidents happen, and when they do, they get reported on the news. The reality is the amount of poisoning cases is still so much lower than many other poison calls.
In addition, the American Association of Poison Control Centers says in their annual report that, “A decline in exposures has been seen since April 2014, possibly reflecting increased scrutiny on e-cigarettes and increased state and local regulation.” Another truth is that other tobacco products still cause more poisoning cases than e-cigarettes. With the exception of a small spike prior to the April 2014 date, other tobacco products steadily remain more of a poison concern than e-liquids.
There were 3783 exposures to e-liquid reported to poison control centers in 2014, but let’s compare that number to other substances. Analgesics, pain medication, were responsible for just under 300,000 reported cases, alcohol the cause of over 70,000 cases even plants is responsible for upwards of 46,000 cases. And only 3,783 for e-cigarettes… seems pretty small in comparison to the everyday risks of tylenol, alcohol and house plants, all of which are common, and at times more dangerous, than e-liquid.
So while the reports keep coming, stay mindful of the real danger, but remember smoking cigarettes is likely a lot more dangerous for you and those around you too.
3. E-Cigarettes do not help you quit smoking, most people become dual-users
The CDC’s recent Tips from Former Smokers campaign was perhaps the best example of this particular spin. The ad featured a young woman in her 30s named Kristy who started using e-cigs but continued using regular cigarettes until her lung collapsed.
This particular approach tries to poke big holes in the harm reduction aspect of e-cigarettes. If they help you cut back in smoking, even just a little bit, then one has to assume you practicing habits that are better for you than just smoking regular cigarettes. And for those who are able to quit completely with the help of e-cigs, they truly are reducing the harm they are taking into their bodies and their lives. Yes some people will still be dual users, but those who reduce their smoking significantly, or quit altogether are not likely to experience the same fate as Kristy.
4. E-Cigarettes are dangerous and will explode.
Ah, yes, it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t address the exploding e-cigarette phenomenon. And while it has happened, and it could likely happen again, the amount of e-cigarette explosions are but a blip on the radar in comparison to the actual successful use of e-cigarettes. Still, there are a few precautions you can take when purchasing and caring for your device that can make this rare phenomenon even rarer.
Make sure you buy American. A majority of e-cig devices are manufactured in China. While there are many reputable Chinese companies, there are even more knockoffs and products that are manufactured at substandard conditions. When a product is made in America, it still must adhere to strict manufacturing guidelines, making Made in USA products safer than some of the others on the shelves.
Also be sure you don’t leave your device plugged in overnight or while you’re gone. Never overcharge and always use the charger that came with your battery.
Again, while exploding e-cigs can happen, the media spin has created a frenzy that has a potentially damaging effect. By vilifying the e-cigarette for it’s entertainment value, you are possible deterring would be vapers from trying e-cigs and potentially being able to cut back or quit smoking regular cigarettes.
Facts and figures cannot be changed… but the way in which they are presented to you can cater to whatever side best fits its need. You can still listen to the facts, they are always there, but be wary of the context and the danger of sensationalized media, there’s always a little more to the story than just the headline.