Tuesday's newspapers contained a number of stories stating that vaping is as dangerous as smoking. The Sun newspaper even ran this as the main headline on its front page.
The stories and the headlines that accompanied them were of course without foundation.
In response IBVTA wrote to every newspaper and media outlet that covered the story, whether at a local or national level. IBVTA set out the actual facts and made it clear that the media has a responsibility to provide some critical analysis of studies like the one used as the basis for this story. Failure to do so, IBVTA wrote, can create a false impression that vaping is more harmful than it actually is and may put some smokers off switching to vaping.
In addition to this IBVTA wrote directly to the editor of The Sun setting out our concerns regarding the way his paper covered this story.
IBVTA have also written (see below) to every Member of Parliament and Member of the House of Lords correcting this media coverage and pointing them in the direction of the actual facts. We will also be sending this same letter to members of the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Letter to politicians:
Dear Member of Parliament,
In yesterday’s newspapers you may have read a number of stories stating that vaping is as dangerous as smoking. The Sun newspaper even ran this as the main headline on its front page.
The claim that prompted these headlines was made at a conference, the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, by Professor Charalambos Vlachopoulos, of the University of Athens Medical School.
It was based on a study of one particular well known acute response to nicotine exposure, written up as a letter to a journal: Vlachopoulos C, Ioakeimidis N, Abdelrasoul M, et al (2016) Electronic Cigarette Smoking Increases Aortic Stiffness and Blood Pressure in Young Smokers. J Am Coll Cardiol 67:2802–2803. 
The study in question looked at the effect of vaping on blood pressure and blood vessels, and found that vaping can cause temporary arterial stiffness, something we already knew. The same thing happens after drinking a cup of coffee, when using NRT products, or when in stressful situations such as taking an exam or watching a football game.  A point supported by Professor Robert West from University College London. 
Most of the reported changes in this study were induced by asking participants to puff continuously for 30 minutes. Obviously this is not what happens when vapers use their devices in real life. There are also at least two studies that contradict the findings of this particular study. 
As Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, pointed out, “it had taken 30 minutes of vaping to achieve the same effect as five minutes of smoking.” She went on to say, “It's wrong to say this study proves vaping is as dangerous as smoking, it doesn't.” 
Vaping is not as dangerous as smoking and for the media to say so in such a sensational way is irresponsible. Such stories only serve to put smokers off switching to vaping and may convince some vapers to go back to smoking.
There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape. We know from independent studies undertaken by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. 
Data from the Smokefree Britain Survey conducted by YouGov and analysed by researchers at King’s College London found that between 2014 and 2015 there had been a growing false belief that vaping could be as harmful as smoking. 
· Among the general population who have heard of vaping, between 2014 and 2015 there was a significant increase in the perception that vaping was as harmful or more harmful than smoking (from 15% in 2014 to 22% in 2015).
· Among smokers who have never tried vaping but are aware of them, this perception of harm has nearly doubled from 12% in 2014 to 22% in 2015.
This is very worrying and headlines like the ones published in the media yesterday are contributing to this false impression and putting smokers off switching to vaping.
As a responsible trade association we do not expect the media to only report positive stories about vaping, but we do expect the media to take a responsible and balanced approach to the articles it publishes and the headlines that accompany them.
Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA)
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24958250 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26749533
 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review and https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0