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Unfounded reports being used to discourage electronic cigarette use

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It seems these days every media outlet in America is trying to grab a headline by discussing the harms of electronic cigarettes. Amidst all the controversy over e-cigarettes, many publishers are using unfounded studies and reports in attempt to lure readers in and discourage electronic cigarette use. On March 26, 2014, WebMD published an article titled E-Cigarettes: What the Research Shows but the problem with the article is the research did not show anything except for another attempt to discourage the public from using e-cigarettes.

The WebMD article starts out by citing a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from September 5, 2013 which discuses a rise in e-cigarette use among teens. According to the CDC report, 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide had tried e-cigarettes in 2012. Author of the WebMD article, Stephanie Watson, goes on to discuss a study that was released earlier this month which shows that middle and high school students who tried e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes. In the very next sentence the author writes, “While the study didn’t prove cause and effect…” which means that just because a teen tries e-cigarettes does not mean that is the reason they are trying conventional cigarettes.

The CDC Fact Sheet for Smoking & Tobacco Use shows that there are already plenty of teens picking up smoking cigarettes everyday without the help of e-cigarettes. The report states, “Each day, more than 3,200 persons younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette. Each day, an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers.” By these numbers, more than 1.1 million persons younger than 18 years of age try their first cigarette everyday regardless of whether they first try e-cigarettes.

Other articles by major news outlets such as the one published by USA Today on March 26 cite warnings by the American Association of Poison Control Centers that reports of exposure to e-cigarettes and nicotine liquid are on the rise. According to that article, there have been 651 reports of exposures to e-cigarettes and nicotine liquid through March 24, 2014. What this warning does not tell the public is what types of calls were being reported. The latest NPDS Report shows that there were more than 1 million "information only" calls made to poison control centers nationally in 2012. Could it be that these people got a drop or two of nicotine liquid on their skin and thought they needed to call poison control? It is possible that someone who is unaware of the effects of nicotine liquid could have called simply to get information about it. Simply stating that there are 651 reports and not giving information about the severity of these reports only leads the public to assume the worst which is unfair.

Truth is, there are still a lot of unknowns about the e-cigarette industry. There have been a few weak studies conducted that had a lot of inconclusive evidence that electronic cigarettes are dangerous. It appears as though sensationalism has taken over in the media and journalist are trying to lure readers in by feeding them false data and discussing studies that do not prove cause and effect.

Many “Vapers” have taken matters into their own hands and have taken it upon themselves to set the record straight. The Voice of Vapers website for example, has started a movement called the I Am One Movement where e-cigarette users can tell their stories about how e-cigs have helped them quit smoking conventional cigarettes. The website also features articles refuting news stories that are being released on major news networks. The website was featured on the live webcast put on by The Vape Team on March 26 and is gaining momentum as more “Vapers” become aware of its purpose.