If you’re a vaper, you’ve probably been experiencing a litany of calls and texts from concerned friends and family about your vaping habits.You've probably even been tagged in a couple of posts on Facebook--Aunt Gertrude sharing the latest proclamation from her favorite media giant that vaping is maiming and killing unsuspecting children across the country. As annoying and potentially alarming as all of this might be, it's important to know that this mostly stems from a place of ignorance on top of straight up media disinformation.
At the time of writing this article, there have been 8 confirmed “vaping related” deaths and hundreds of illnesses. While this is undoubtedly a tragic situation, the truth is that the media has been misrepresenting the true cause of these deaths and illnesses--black market THC vape cartridges. Just take a look at this headline taken directly from CNN:
No doubt about it, this is a pretty alarming headline. Considering that similar headlines have had prominence on just about every major media outlet's website for several weeks now, it's totally understandable that your brother, mother, or even that mildly creepy guy at work named Jared are concerned about your health and safety. However, their concern also happens to speak volumes about their reading comprehension and attention span. If you continue reading the specific article mentioned above, you will read several uses of misleading terms like ‘e-cigarette’ and ‘vaping’ before they give you the first hint about the true catalyst for all of this hysteria:
Vaping nicotine for chronic pain issues? Call me crazy, but I am going to guess that he was vaping something a little... heavier than nicotine. Finally, once you've gotten all the way to the second page of the article (but let's be real, the vast majority of people just skim the headline), CNN finally comes clean:
“The CDC and various state health departments have reported widespread use of products containing THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance within cannabis, among people who became ill.”Unbelievable. Obvious manipulation of public opinion against a whole product sector that is dedicated to reducing the harm from cigarettes. It’s disingenuous and frankly dangerous, because articles like these have successfully swayed public opinion and manufactured outrage so far into the mainstream that numerous state legislatures, including Michigan, Washington, Rhode Island, and New York, (with many more states close behind) have banned the sale of flavored e-liquids, putting thousands of small business owners and employees out of work, and endangering the lives of their former customers.
The vaping hysteria has gotten so insidious that even President Trump has commented on it, though he’s quickly pulled back from his original stance. These flavor bans are temporary (90-120 days) but they will certainly feel like a lifetime to vapers that have successfully put dangerous cigarettes behind them. These poor people will be forced to suffer all because of media misinformation laced with disingenuous cries of "Won't someone think of the children!?" and shameless politicians looking for a PR boost going into election year.
As discouraging as all of this might be, this is definitely not the time to throw your arms up in defeat.We can and WILL survive this as long as we continue to put up a fight. If you want to do your part to combat this coordinated attack on vaping, there is a lot that you can do. Contact your local representatives and let your voice be heard; let them know that you won't vote for someone that unilaterally takes away your rights in a knee-jerk reaction to the latest media coverage.
Donate to vaping advocacy groups like CASAA and the AVA as well as local groups that fight for vaping rights within your home state. Most importantly though: educate those around you! The next time Aunt Gertrude shares an article that mischaracterizes vaping, respond to her with a link to this article (as a bonus, if she is actually your aunt and her name is actually Gertrude, she's going to be really freaked out. Alternatively, we made a video breaking down a lot of this that might be easier to digest for some of the people you know: