Turning tides against the misleading reporting of vaping?
In mid October, the IBVTA released a statement in which we respectfully called on public health influencers and policy makers to redouble their efforts to clarify the media portrayal of vaping.
We are of the firm belief that a significant downturn in e-cigarette sales over recent weeks is clear evidence that consumer confidence in a regulated product sector has been severely shaken, and unnecessarily so.
This has been in no small part down to how the media has been conflating harms caused by illicit drug use in the USA with the method of delivery, which has grossly maligned the sector that produces and sells vape products in the UK.
The UK has had a legitimate, credible and responsible vaping industry subject to stringent regulatory requirements for over three and a half years now. Responsible businesses operate on an open book basis and act collaboratively with regulators to make sure that they are selling the safest products possible to their customers.
An article in the Daily Mail appeared online on the 2nd of November, which was revised on the 4th of November. In it, the Daily Mail outlined the ‘’crucial facts that prove the supposed harms of vaping have been blown way out of proportion. And, according to the scientists, the scaremongering may be more dangerous than the devices themselves.”
In the article, Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), is quoted as saying ‘Bad news about e-cigarettes is what journalists want and what the public is interested in. The coverage is, as a result, very misleading‘ and ‘Lives will be lost if deaths like these scare people back to smoking.’
The revision carries subheadings that anyone with a genuine interest in public health, reducing smoking rates, and who follows the evidence on vaping, will be sure to welcome; ‘Chemicals unlikely to cause harm‘, and ‘No, e-cigs don’t cause heart attacks‘.
Ann McNeill, Professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London is quoted in the article, ‘We need to be careful that, when we hear these stories from the US we don’t deter people from using e-cigarettes. Tobacco is so uniquely harmful. The reality is that e-cigarettes have radically cut smoking rates since being introduced in 2010.’
Is this a sign of turning tides against the misleading reporting of vaping?
Perhaps not quite, given the article still contains images of a woman from the US who had gotten ill from using THC. Nonetheless, credit should be given to the Daily Mail for getting the opinions of leading public health figures, the Chair of the Committee on Toxicity, and leading researcher Dr Lion Shahab.
The IBVTA is also glad to see that our engagement in mid October is bearing fruition, for the benefit of the smokers who may be thinking of using an e-cigarette as part of a quit attempt, or those smokers who had recently switched to vaping and may be thinking of going back to smoking.
As our Chief Executive, Gillian Golden, has said, ”Smokers can be confident in switching to an e-cigarette, and getting this message out needs to be a combined effort across industry, government and the public health community.”