9 of the Worst Lies About Vaping in the Media
1. Vaping is just as bad as smoking
This is the worst lie of all. There are about 36 million American smokers, and more than a billion worldwide. They don’t deserve to be lied to about a product that could very well save their lives. Burning tobacco produces smoke that contains a lot of proven carcinogenic chemicals, along with combustion products like carbon monoxide that cause cardiovascular damage.
Even if we can’t quite say that vaping is safe, no legitimate scientist believes that e-cigarette vapor is even in the same ballpark as smoking for health risks
“To undermine the public’s appreciation of the severity of smoking’s hazards by comparing real cigarettes to fake ones is doing a huge disservice to the public and to smokers in particular,” writes Dr. Michael Siegel. “There is no legitimate scientific dispute over the fact that vaping is much safer than smoking.”
2. The vape companies are luring your children!
The FDA prohibits e-cigarette manufacturers from claiming their products are safer than smoking, a tool to quit smoking, smoke-free, or even that they don’t contain tobacco. Being prevented from advertising truthfully any of the real benefits of vaping, the few manufacturers that advertise at all to general audiences naturally fall back on tried and true ad techniques: celebrities and glamorous imagery.
And that has earned them accusations of “using the tobacco playbook” to trick teenagers into “a lifetime of nicotine addiction.” The real benefit of these ads is to the worn-out politicians who grab hold of anything they can blame on “Big Tobacco.”
So the know-nothing political hacks blame EVERYTHING on Big Tobacco! Who’s pushing “child-attracting” flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear? Big Tobacco. Who’s behind the epidemic of exploding vapes? Big Tobacco. And whenever an opportunistic pol finds a friendly microphone, the media are there to dutifully report that vapor companies are “using the same tactics and ads used by Big Tobacco that proved so effective.”
3. Vapor is full of formaldehyde and other scary chemicals
The formaldehyde scare came from a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine from the authors of a study at Portland State University in which some cheap top-coil clearomizers were overheated to the point where they burned off the liquid and delivered unvapeable dry hits. Their conclusions have been soundly debunked — including in this recent study by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos.
We breathe and eat chemicals every day, but most of them don’t affect us. It’s true that there are a lot of scary-sounding chemicals in vapor, but they’re present in tiny concentrations. Everything we eat, drink, or breathe has chemicals that might be risky to consume in large quantities. But we don’t consume them in large quantities.
The Royal College of Physicians agrees. In its comprehensive review of e-cigarette science, the College concluded, “In normal conditions of use, toxin levels in inhaled e-cigarette vapour are probably well below prescribed threshold limit values for occupational exposure, in which case significant long-term harm is unlikely.”
4. Big Tobacco invented e-cigarettes and owns the vapor industry
E-cigarettes were developed and first sold by a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik. The products made it to U.S. shores in 2007. Five years later, in 2012, American cigalike manufacturer Blu was purchased by tobacco company Lorillard. That was the first involvement of the tobacco industry in the sales of vapor products.
Since then, all the Big Tobacco companies have introduced e-cigarettes of their own, and it is true that they dominate sales in convenience stores and gas stations — the traditional source of cigarette sales. However, Wells Fargo tobacco industry analyst Bonnie Herzog estimates that the Big Tobacco companies account for less that 40 percent of the whole vapor products market. The rest of the business is the independent manufacturers and sellers that vapers know and love.
And it’s looking like the tobacco industry is looking for other products to compete in the low-risk nicotine marketplace. That’s partly because many of the early vaping patents are owned by Fontem Ventures — a subsidiary of Imperial Brands (formerly known as Imperial Tobacco). Philip Morris International (PMI), British American Tobacco (BAT), and Japan Tobacco International are all pursuing so-called heat-not-burn (HNB) products as alternatives to cigarettes, although so far their introductions have been more hype than anything.
PMI claims its IQOS HNB device is converting Japanese smokers at a rapid rate — but nicotine-containing vapes are illegal in Japan, so it’s not exactly a fair fight. Both IQOS and BAT’s HNB device called Glo are seeking approval from the FDA as Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTP). The federal agency has never granted an MRTP approval before.
5. Vaping causes popcorn lung!
Some e-liquid contains diacetyl or acetyl propionyl, buttery flavorings that are thought to have caused a condition called popcorn lung (actual name: bronchiolitis obliterans) in some flavoring factory workers almost two decades ago.
But there has never been a diagnosed case of popcorn lung in a vaper. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any cases of popcorn lung in cigarette smokers either — even though cigarettes contain between 100 and 750 times the diacetyl of e-cigarettes. And as vaping gets more (usually negative) attention in the press, and anti-vaping public health activists watch closely, it seems less and less likely that any real connection between vaping and popcorn lung would be missed.
6. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin