Despite the overwhelming evidence, smokers (who are the primary candidates for electronic cigarettes) are becoming increasingly doubtful about their safety. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois found that in 2010, 84.7% of smokers surveyed believed e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but according to a study released in 2013, that number dropped to just 65%. How is it possible that a product that produces no smoke, tar or ash, and contains virtually none of the 4,000+ chemicals found in cigarettes can be seen as just as potentially dangerous? BLAME IT ON THE MEDIA!
Just As Risky As Smoking? Really?
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wanted to examine changes in e-cigarette awareness, how harmful people believe them to be, and if those attitudes have any connection to smoking cessation attempts. They found that while awareness has increased significantly, smokers are less inclined to consider them safer than tobacco.
“This apparent decline in smokers’ beliefs about reduced harm of e-cigarettes compared with regular cigarettes is perplexing against the background of advertising and media messages touting e-cigarettes as safer alternatives and cessation aids,” said investigator Cabral Bigman, PhD, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
One possible explanation is that the increased media attention over the lack of FDA approval and regulation of this emerging tobacco product, injuries arising from e-cigarette-induced fires, and health concerns from toxic chemicals in e-cigarettes in recent years may have conveyed conflicting information about the relative safety of e-cigarette use.”
Negative Stories Create Headlines
It goes without saying that the media’s job is to educate and inform the public, but in today’s society, it’s more about creating headlines than it is about telling the FULL STORY. Unfortunately, it’s often the negative headlines that attract the most attention. Reporting about the benefits of e-cigarettes, and the possibility that they’re saving millions of lives just doesn’t have the same impact as “BATTERY EXPLOSIONS” and “HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS.” Despite the facts and the countless studies that support e-cigarette safety, it’s very rare to hear a positive story about e-cigarettes in the media.
Here are just a few samples of recent attention grabbing headlines:
- “Some E-Cigarettes Deliver a Puff of Carcinogens” – NY Times
- “Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of E-Cig Explosions” – OC Weekly
- “Life Insurers Treat E-Cigs Just Like Other Cigarettes” – BusinessWeek
- “E-Cigarettes May Not Be As Safe As You Think” – Huffington Post
- “E-Cigarettes Just as Deadly as Normal Smokes, Experts Warn” – The Nation
- “Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes” – NY Times
- “Electronic Cigarette Explodes in Man’s Mouth” – CBS News
These are just a few of the major headlines about e-cigarettes from the past few weeks, but stories like these have been running rampant for several years now. Do a search for “e-cigarettes” on Google News and count the number of positive news stories about vaping or electronic cigarettes – it’s virtually nil! Is it any wonder that smokers are questioning electronic cigarette safety?
Plenty of Blame to Go Around
It’s not just the media to blame… lawmakers, pharmaceutical and tobacco companies, anti-smoking groups and a number of vested interests drive the campaign against e-cigarettes. Even though research suggests that they help smokers quit and they’ve been proven time-and-time again to contain significantly less harmful substances, the forces behind the anti-e-cig campaign are powerful and fierce. Cities, states, the federal government and large, multi-billion dollar corporations stand to lose billions in profit and tax revenues if smokers give up tobacco and make the switch to e-cigs.
Here Are Some Facts:
Negative media coverage has smokers worried about e-cig safety, but here are some FACTS:
- Thoroughly Tested Ingredients
Electronic cigarettes contain only three or four ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and added flavoring. All of these ingredients have been thoroughly tested, are FDA-approved and widely considered safe – even in vapor form. Compare that to the 4,000+ chemicals found in cigarettes, over 60 of which have been shown to cause cancer. The ingredients →
- Significantly Less Toxins Than Cigarettes
Multiple peer-reviewed medical studies have PROVEN that electronic cigarettes contain significantly less chemicals than tobacco cigarettes. Although some studies have found trace amounts of toxic substances, it’s only a tiny fraction of the amount found in tobacco, well below government safety limits. In fact, you’re exposed to more of these harmful chemicals when you walk down the street or take a deep breath in a major U.S. city. List of studies →
- They Produce No Tar
Electronic cigarettes DO NOT produce tar, the chemical-laden substance that sticks to smokers lungs and virtually everything around them. Tar is a major culprit for most of the respiratory problems associated with smoking, not to mention the nasty stench.
- No Flame or Combustion
Despite the attention grabbing headlines about e-cig explosions, the number of fires associated with electronic cigarettes pales in comparison to the 100,000+ U.S. fires caused by traditional cigarettes and cigarette lighters. So far, no fire deaths have been associated with e-cigarettes, but smoking is the leading cause of fire death in all eight countries with available statistics.
- They’ve Helped THOUSANDS of Smokers Quit
Although there are conflicting reports about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation, plenty of studies have found them to perform at least as well as nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) such as the patch and gum. More research is still necessary, but you can read thousands of testimonials around the web on sites like Reddit and ECF. They may not be effective for everyone, but they’ve undoubtedly helped thousands, possibly millions of smokers quit.
Despite the recent headlines, electronic cigarettes ARE NOT the scary, life-threatening products that the media likes to portray. Although it will take years for researchers to evaluate the long-term effects, e-cigs are (without a doubt) significantly less harmful than tobacco. By eliminating tar and drastically reducing the deadly, toxic chemicals, almost every expert agrees that e-cigs are a much safer choice than smoking. How could a product with only FDA-approved ingredients and virtually none of the harmful toxins be considered just as dangerous as smoking? It’s a case of media sensationalism…
* You be the judge. SEE THE STUDIES →