One of the interesting things about vaping is that even though it has now existed for over a decade misinformation and myths are still being circulated in the media. While ten years ago it would have been perfectly fair to say that the long-term health effects of vaping were unknown it is now a very long time since vaping was a new phenomenon. There are now tens of millions of adult vapers in the world, and many of those people are former smokers who have been smoke free for years.
Some speculate that misinformation about vaping is still rampant because vaping represents a threat to big corporations. Today however many tobacco companies are on board with the reality that vaping is a credible alternative to smoking. And for people who are looking to quit nicotine altogether vaping can be an effective part of a smoking cessation program.
Furthermore, synthetic nicotine is becoming more common in the vaping industry. Within the next few years, it won’t even be necessary to extract nicotine from tobacco leaves for the production of e-liquid.
Media bias against vaping however has gotten so bad that the public health system of the United Kingdom had to put out a press release this year reassuring citizens that those who smoke should absolutely switch to the alternative of vaping to reduce their risk.
It is important to read the news with a critical eye and ask yourself who might benefit if you agree with the views being presented – and nowhere is that truer than it is with vaping. There are some myths about vaping that have persisted for years now, despite the fact that they are provably false. In this article, we’re going to bust some of the biggest and most insidious myths, half-truths and misinformation about vaping.
Vaping Myth 1: We Don’t Have Any Idea What’s in E-Cigarette Vapour
During the earliest years of vaping, some health experts were hesitant to recommend it as an alternative to smoking because it wasn’t completely clear what the e-liquids contained. At that time, most of the world’s e-liquid came from China and had nondescript packaging without ingredient lists. Today, though, the situation is entirely different. The vaping industry in New Zealand is regulated by the government, and e-liquids sold here are required to have ingredient lists. The same is true of the United States, the United Kingdom and virtually every other nation in which vaping regulations have been implemented. We know exactly what e-liquid contains, and anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or lying.
Vaping Myth 2: We Don’t Know Whether Vaping Is Less Risky Than Smoking
Some of the world’s major tobacco control organizations continue to resist recommending vaping as an alternative to smoking, claiming that we don’t understand the risk profile of vaping and can’t say for certain that it’s less risky than smoking. The World Health Organization, in particular, claims that we don’t understand the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes because they “[haven’t] been on the market long enough.”
Public Health England, meanwhile, estimates that e-cigarettes are as much as 95 percent safer than tobacco cigarettes – and the scientific community continues to produce study after study backing up that claim. In fact, the vast majority of the world’s scientific researchers are quite certain that smoking is more harmful than vaping. They’re entirely comfortable saying that, if you’re going to use nicotine either way, you’re much better off vaping than you are continuing to smoke. That’s the essence of tobacco harm reduction.
Why, then, would anyone hesitate to recommend vaping as an alternative for someone who would otherwise smoke? As always, it’s very worthwhile to follow the money. The WHO, for example, receives funding for its tobacco control initiatives from philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg is on record as being very strongly against vaping, and the WHO parrots his views.
Vaping Myth 3: We Don’t Know if Vaping Can Help Smokers Quit
Since the beginning of vaping, some doctors have been hesitant to tell patients who smoke that they should vape. Many doctors have preferred to suggest traditional smoking cessation methods instead, since those drugs are approved by authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Although there was anecdotal evidence from millions of former smokers who had used vaping to quit successfully, some health professionals preferred to wait for the research to come in.
Today, though, we have that research – and much of it is very positive. In 2019, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study in which 889 smoking participants were randomly given either e-cigarettes or traditional nicotine replacement products. After one year, 18 percent of those given e-cigarettes were still tobacco free, compared to 9.9 percent among those who received traditional nicotine replacement therapies. In effect, the study suggests that vaping is almost twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement in helping smokers quit – and that’s just one of several studies that exist. Anyone who says that we don’t know whether vaping can help smokers quit simply hasn’t bothered to read the data.
If you’re a smoker and are considering using vaping to help yourself quit, the important thing to remember is that vaping isn’t a magic wand and that you will ultimately be the one who determines whether you quit smoking. Many of the people who successfully quit with vaping will tell you that vaping makes quitting easier – but don’t mistake “easier” for “easy.” You’ll still have to make the commitment that you are going to stop smoking when you get your first e-cigarette.
Vaping Myth 4: Vaping Can Cause Severe Lung Injuries
One of the biggest controversies ever to hit the vaping industry was the emergence of a vaping-associated pulmonary injury in the United States. The injury affected more than 2,700 people and killed dozens. The commonality among those affected by the injury was that they had all vaped before symptoms began to appear. The media reported on the lung injury with a sense of alarm. Amidst the fear, some vapers returned to smoking, and some smokers elected not to switch to vaping – but nicotine vaping had nothing to do with the illness.
As it turned out, the fear – among users of legal nicotine e-liquid, at least – was unfounded. The cause of the pulmonary injury turned out to be Vitamin E acetate, an ingredient that was added to black market THC vaping cartridges to make those cartridges appear more potent than they actually were. Though the lung injury was horrible, it was the illegal use of cannabis products – not legal nicotine vaping – that was driving the outbreak.
From the outset, it should have been obvious to almost everyone that nicotine e-liquid couldn’t have been the cause of the lung injury. Why did the injury only appear in the United States when nicotine vapers across the world were all using the same e-liquids? FDA regulation froze the e-liquid market in the United States in 2016. E-liquid companies weren’t allowed to change their formulas, so why didn’t anyone contract the lung injury until 2019? The facts didn’t add up, but the media conflated nicotine vaping and THC vaping anyway when reporting on the lung injury.
Irresponsible reporting led to the press release from Public Health England cited at the top of this article. It also led to the incorrect perception among 66 percent of U.S. citizens that legal nicotine e-cigarettes had caused the lung injury outbreak. The early irresponsible media reports about the lung injury continue to be quoted and requoted around the world even now despite the fact that legal nicotine e-liquids had nothing to do with the injury.
Vaping Myth 5: Flavoured E-Liquids Encourage Teens to Vape
As you may have noticed when reading the website of Michael Bloomberg linked to above, some politicians strongly feel that e-liquid flavours should be severely restricted because they believe sweet flavours encourage teens to vape. It’s fortunate for New Zealand’s vapers that our nation’s vaping regulations allow specialist vape shops to sell all e-liquid flavours because appealing flavours are important in helping adult smokers switch to vaping successfully.
It’s also fortunate that our country’s vaping regulations are rooted in common sense because the idea that flavours encourage teens to vape is a fallacy. Rampant and unchecked youth-oriented marketing is what caused teens to start vaping in the United States, and the teen vaping epidemic that has occurred in the U.S. hasn’t happened anywhere else.
- In New Zealand, the rate of teen vaping is about 8 percent.
- In Australia, the rate of teen vaping is about 8 percent.
- In the United Kingdom, the rate of teen vaping is about 6 percent.
The most important thing to know about teen vaping in all of these nations is that virtually all of the teens who vape previously smoked cigarettes. All three of the surveys cited above suggest that vaping holds almost no interest among teens who have never smoked. Flavoured e-liquid simply does not encourage teens to vape.
Vaping Myth 6: The Big Box Mods Are the Only Vaping Devices Worth Using
If you’ve been vaping for a while, you may have no idea how scary it is for some smokers to enter brick-and-mortar vape shops. For better and worse, a sort of counterculture has appeared around vaping, and some people consider vaping a hobby and lifestyle activity as much as it is a replacement for smoking. For those people, vaping has become a passion, and their interest in vaping as a hobby helps them stay away from tobacco. For smokers, though, entering a vape shop can be like stepping into a different world. It’s intimidating to be around “vape bros” – especially when those people are openly making fun of vaping products other than the products they use.
This is one vaping myth that, as vapers, we can all help to bust. Although many long-term vapers do love big box mods and powerful tanks, you do the entire vaping community a disservice if you speak poorly of other types of vaping products just because you wouldn’t personally use those products. There is no single “best” vaping device – there is only what’s best for you. Our goal as a community shouldn’t be to promote a particular type of vaping device as the only type of device worth owning or to foster fanhood for a particular brand – it should be for each of us to do our part in helping to stamp out smoking for good.
At Premium Vape, we are committed to helping adult smokers transition to the reduced-harm alternative of vaping and to furthering New Zealand’s goal of becoming smoke free by 2025.
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