Sensational sun headline about vaping

Clive Bates is a prominent vaping advocate in the United Kingdom. He has worked in health-related, high-profile positions for various nonprofits, government organisations, and NGO’s, including Action on Smoking and Health. He is also featured in the popular vaping documentary, A Billion Lives.


Recently, he penned a blog post about the sensationalised story on the front page of the Sun which cast vaping - and its effects on the heart - in a negative light. From the post:


“Not one single element of these headlines has any grounding in reality, and all are grossly misleading. The contributory negligence or cynicism of journalists in reporting vaping health stories is now commonplace.”


Bates goes on to rip apart the study in question, which claims that vaping stiffens arteries. In fact, nearly all stimulants - including caffeine - have the short-term effect of stiffening arteries. A cup of coffee actually produces more in the way of these effects than a vape does. The long-term health effects of cigarettes are far worse than vaping, or a cup of coffee, for your heart because of the many toxic chemicals and compounds that cigarette smoke contains.  


The American Heart Association calls vaping safer than smoking


In this article, a spokesperson from the American Heart Association said:


"E-cigarettes either do not contain or have lower levels of several tobacco-derived harmful and potentially harmful constituents compared with cigarettes and smokeless tobacco."


While the organisation does not endorse e-cigarettes, it does not condemn them and views them, as it should, in the context of relative harm.


Another recent study calls ecigs a “low cardiovascular risk”


It’s always more sensational to report bad results than good results. This study, Cardiovascular toxicity of nicotine: Implications for electronic cigarette use, reports that e-cigarettes pose a low cardiovascular risk, particularly when framed against tobacco cigarette smoking. It also came out in August 2016.


Why is the media so keen to bash vaping?


Unfortunately, as mentioned above, negativity sells more papers than positivity. You are more likely to click on the headline “Apple Busted for Tax Evasion” than “Apple Good, Responsible Corporate Citizen”. While most journalists want to practice investigative, good journalism, their bosses often require something different to keep the lights on. In The Sun’s defense, it did reach out to a UK vaping association for comment, but placed their response at the bottom of the article where facts go to die. Most people read the headline and the top two paragraphs of a story, and then move on - particularly if it is a subject they are not interested in. Journalists are also increasingly pressed for time, so looking around for countering studies isn’t going to be something they do if they have an hour to churn out a story - they usually read the study abstract and use it for their pieces, rather than downloading the entire PDF report.

Vaping is easily villified as a follow-on to cigarette smoking, when in reality it has become a lifeline for many who have tried other methods of quitting and failed. 


If you were looking for a way to provide a counter argument to friends and family who have read the Sun article, read through Clive Bates’ entire post.