Why is Vaping Receiving Such Bad Publicity?
For decades the general public has been bombarded by anti-smoking campaigns. Since the onset of these tobacco health warnings, we have seen a steady decline of people who admit they smoke. The CDC states that in 2016, less than 16% of American adults smoke cigarettes. In 2005, it was almost 21%. Vaping has arguably contributed to this decline. Various studies have shown that smokers who switched to electronic cigarettes have a higher chance of quitting than most other alternative nicotine replacement methods. But even though vaping has been highly successful at getting people to quit smoking, it seems to have gained the same notoriety and negative perceptions as cigarettes. Why is it receiving such negative publicity if it is doing exactly what anti-smoking campaigns have been trying to do for decades? There are a number of reasons why vaping has a bad rap.
Top Five Reasons why Vaping has a Bad Rap
1. Uneducated Public
Many non-vapers still confuse vapor with smoke. They don’t understand what it is and how it works. I remember one instance when I was standing outside an airport vaping my mod. I had a really sweet tasting strawberry vape juice whose aroma was as good as the taste. As I blew out the cloud, a pedestrian exited the airport and walked towards my direction. Prior to making his way though the dispersing cloud, I saw him crinkle his nose and make a waving motion with his hand. It looked as if he was trying to hold his breath and fan away the cloud as he passed by me. In his mind, he was walking through a fume of obnoxious chemicals and carbon monoxide. I doubt he even recognized the smell of strawberries in the air. But this is what vapers are up against. They see smoke, not vapor. And even if the vapor contains less toxins than the average air sample on a busy street, non vapers still think second hand vapor is deadly.
2. Questionable Studies
Published studies use outdated data or skewed testing to gain a negative outcome, or use deliberate wording to make it seem worse than it is. They ignore the many studies like (this one, for example) that show that vapor has significantly fewer toxins than cigarette smoke. In fact, the above study found that toxic chemicals in vaping were “comparable with trace amounts found in a Nicorette inhalor.” However, companies like RJ Reynolds have worked to promote negative studies on vaping in hopes of crushing their competition. The subject of Formaldehyde in vapor always seems to come up. This was based on a questionable study in the New England Journal of Medicine when coils were subjected to unreasonable wattage levels. Another great point to bring up is that formaldehyde is also present in apples, pears, and Shiitake mushrooms.
3. Treat it like Tobacco to Tax It like Tobacco
On April 1st, Californians raised the tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. Many states have been passing similar laws, which inevitably pushes people to find alternatives to smoking because of the increased costs. Many of these former smokers switch to vaping because it mimics the act of smoking and costs considerably less. A lot of government programs rely on tobacco tax to function. Politicians have certainly pondered how to keep that tax flow coming as more and more smokers switch to vaping. The government loves to tax goods, especially goods they deem deserve a “sin tax”. To offset the loss of income from the dwindling tobacco sales, they can classify vaping products as tobacco to continue the tax stream.
4. Vaping Etiquette
Not everybody gets a kick out of someone blowing clouds of vapor in their vicinity. And there are many vapers and non-vapers alike who may get irritated lungs when breathing certain types of vapor. The act of vaping is identical to smoking, and the same courtesies and respect should be rendered to non-vapers who are near us. If a business establishment posted a no smoking sign, it should be assumed that applies to vaping as well. Always ask the manager first if there is any doubt on whether vaping is allowed. The best way to make a good impression as a vaper, is to be mindful of others and practice good vaping etiquette. Being an obnoxious vaper without regard to others will only add to vaping getting a bad rap.
5. A Gateway to Smoking
Many people fear that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. They believe curious teenagers will take up vaping and ultimately switch to smoking. But the National Institute of Health conducted a survey which showed surprising results. High school seniors who reported using electronic cigarettes dropped from 16.2% in 2015 to 12.4% in 2016. Additionally, 75% of the senior who do admit to vaping state their vape juice does not contain any nicotine at all. The vaping industry has never been out to target minors. Even before laws were passed regulating the sale, many vape shop owners refused to sell to “anyone under 18.”
How to Make a Change in the Perception of Vaping
Vaping has a bad rap – but it doesn’t have to. If people don’t understand the difference between vaping and smoking, point them toward resources that will help them understand. Inform them on how it has improved your quality of life. Perceptions change when people hear vapers discuss how much healthier they feel. Good points to bring up are how you can finally taste food again, run without gasping for air and how vaping was what finally got you to quit smoking. Always be polite, courteous, and informed. This is the quickest way to change the negative press on vaping.