The Army Public Health Center updated their warning that initially claimed two marines had died from seizures linked to the CBD oil
In today’s world, it can be hard to know what news is real and what is fake. This story goes to show that this is just as true for vaping as anything else. Over the last several weeks there has been a story making the rounds alleging that vaping CBD oil can be deadly. This story, which was later deemed false, was shared by reputable publications such as Newsweek. So even though the Associated Press released a correction to the story, the damage was already done. The perfect example of bad information going viral precisely because it produces a headline that sells, this false story has already received more traction than countless peer-reviewed studies looking into the dangers of both vaping and CBD oil.
The False Report
The original report was based on an announcement from the Army Public Health Center that among other things claimed two marines had died due to seizures related to vaping CBD oil. As a result, they told personnel to avoid any vape pens or mods that may contain CBD oil or any synthetic weed products. The only problem was that there were no deaths connected to CBD oil. They also claimed that over 30 vapers who were in the military in Utah had experienced severe reactions after vaping CBD oil. But these claims were also redacted after journalists discovered that these cases were for all of Utah, not just the military. In fact, none of the reported cases came from members of the military.
After the news broke that much of their public health announcement was misleading or made up, a spokesperson for the Army Public Health Center made a corrective post shared around the military. In it, they acknowledge that “there have been no fatalities as a result of vaping.” According to them, the soldiers in question had been hospitalized, but neither died. How precisely this became the official story of the incident is still largely up for debate. This story could have been a severe blow to vaping in the military, where it has quickly become a go-to choice for many soldiers.
Vaping In The Military
Vaping has grown into one of the most common habits of military members. According to a 2017 survey published in Preventive Medicine Reports, a majority of soldiers see vaping as both less dangerous than smoking, and more satisfying. It’s likely that since such a significant portion of being a soldier is related to being healthy, military members are more likely to seek out a harm reduction tool than the average smoker.
As of right now, there’s no restriction on vaping e-liquids among military personnel, except where otherwise prohibited. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to vape marijuana, as the military has an extremely strict policy against any weed or hemp products of any kind. So even though CBD oil doesn’t get you high, it’s still prohibited by the US military. In fact, their regulations clearly state “Soldiers are prohibited from using hemp or products containing hemp oil and are also prohibited from using synthetic cannabis, to include synthetic blends using CBD oil.”
For now, though, the military seems willing to support e-liquid vaping whenever it can. After a few incidents where e-cigarette batteries exploded on board Navy ships last year, the Navy decided to ban vaping devices temporarily but acknowledged that it’s better to support a soldier’s right to vape and offer alternative batteries less likely to experience critical failures.
In the Internet age, it can be hard to know what to trust. Making it even harder is the fact that sometimes even well established and respected publications can fall victim to fake news. That’s exactly what happened here, as a sensationalized story was picked up and shared around the world without any of the crucial parts being true. The countless people who read the original reports are now under a false impression of the risks of vaping, while only a small percentage of that group is likely to encounter the much less flashy corrective statements.
This situation is a perfect example of how the public perception of vaping continues to be so dismal. Stories that can claim to prove a grave danger related to something will always spread faster than ones about products being safe. It’s just the way news works, but as a result, there is much more harmful information about vaping floating around the general public than positive information. This in spite of the fact a majority of peer-reviewed studies have concluded that vaping is much safer than smoking, with many finding the reduction to be at least 95%. If we value the public perception of vaping as much as we should, we must do everything we can to balance out the flow of information regarding the dangers of vaping.
Did you see the original story when it was first making the rounds? Why do you think negative stories get more attention than positive ones? Do you believe that corrective statements do their intended job if they don’t circulate as well as the false stories? Let us know what you think in the comments.