After several articles falsely claimed that vaping while driving could land you fines or even a revoked license, we take a look at a troubling trend in vaping
Last week there were a number of articles circulating the web that warned vapers not to use their e-cigarettes and box mods when driving. They claimed that doing so might see them face harsh fines, or even potentially losing their license. These stories weren’t only found on small blogs, but also well-respected publications such as The Independent ran articles about these potential repercussions.
The only issue is that no such laws or regulations had been passed or even talked about. That’s why the Independent British Vape Trade Association decided to step in with a press release addressing this potentially misleading data. But this isn’t the only time that similarly negative sounding stories about vaping have later been rebuked or qualified by adequate information. Stories like these represent a continued troubling trend in vaping, stories that aim to hurt the reputation of vaping via patently false or incomplete information.
Vaping While Driving Articles
Many of the original reports claim the police are warning vapers about using e-cigarettes while driving. According to one article, “If a police officer deems a driver to be distracted by the e-cigarette, they could receive three to nine points on their license, a fine of up to £2,500 or disqualification.” The same article mentions that the police could restrict the use of vaporizers under the same rules as any other electronic devices, such as cell phones.
But taking a closer look at the legality of the situation, things become clear. There are no such laws that prevent drivers from vaping while driving. In fact, several articles even briefly mention this fact, before going back into why it’s so worrisome. The only grounds for it being illegal is if drivers are sufficiently distracted, but as stated by police officers themselves, this is true for eating, smoking, or any other activity. Sargent John Davis of the Surrey Police Department even went as far as to say that while technically possible, vaping being a deadly distraction for drivers is not something that’s been observed, as with other devices such as cell phones. When viewed under this scope, this story is about little more than warning drivers not to operate their vehicles irresponsibly, regardless if e-cigarettes are involved or not.
Trend Of Misleading Information
Vaping already suffers from an abysmal level of public acceptance and understanding. One poll by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of adults understand that vaping is much safer than smoking. Purposefully or not, false stories like these are only making that public understanding worse. Just this year alone there have already been several stories like this that claim to point out significant flaws in e-cigarettes, but ultimately just take things out of context to make vaping sound worse. In early February, stories started circulating about a couple of marines who had died after experiencing seizures connected with vaping CBD oil. As you would expect, these stories spread like wildfire across media outlets and social networks like Facebook. The only problem that the claims were totally bogus. Not long after the story broke, a spokesperson for the Army Public Health Center made a corrective statement about the soldiers. The truth was that, while two Marines had been taken into their care, neither had even come close to dying.
Then just last week a study started making the rounds that claimed to prove the presence of toxic metals in e-liquid vapor. The study in question was published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal and concluded that once a vaporizer is used, the remaining e-liquid contains several toxic substances. These claims caused renowned tobacco control expert, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos to take to his Facebook page to give proper context to the findings. Dr. Farsalinos said in his post “The ‘significant amount’ of metals the authors reported they found were measured in ug/kg. In fact, they are so low that for some cases (chromium and lead) I calculated that you need to vape more than 100 ml per day in order to exceed the FDA limits for daily intake from inhalation medications.”
It ought to be clear to anyone paying attention that vaping is being unfairly treated in the media. Whether this is merely because it’s an easy target for attention-grabbing headlines or the victim of some larger plot to discredit the benefits, the result is the same. Stories like this gain more traction than those highlighting the many benefits of vaping because public perception of vaping is already so weak. But the spreading of these stories is only further harming the reputation and therefore public opinion of vaping as well.
We find ourselves right in the middle of a vicious cycle, where the media fuels the public perception, which begets the official policy of lawmakers. The bottom line is that to improve the ability of vaping to get smokers off cigarettes, we simply must improve the public perception. One of the best ways we can attempt to do this is by fighting back against false or misleading stories like those discussed. If we can get more of the readily available positive information about vaping into public awareness, we may finally see public policy that supports vaping instead of equating it with the very thing it was invented to stop.
How often do you see negative stories about vaping vs. positive ones? Had you read any of the articles mentioned before understanding their full context? How can we mitigate the impact of false and misleading stories on public perception? Let us know what you think in the comments.