Saturday, 14 February 2015

Is press coverage of electronic cigarettes fair?

Over the last few days we have seen a prominent medical professor talking in public about the difficulties of obtaining press coverage for positive research into electronic cigarette use. While this will surprise many people, there has been a suspicion for some time within the vaping community that the wider press are only interested in scare stories which grab the headlines. Is this a fair summary of the situation to date or are both parties being a little blinkered?

Scare stories sell!

The simple fact is that the more sensational the headline the more chance it will be noticed and the more sales of newspapers and more viewers of news related websites. That is the simple fact today, good news very rarely captures the headlines and even a glimpse at the television news seems to show everything with a doom and gloom slant. However, it will be interesting to see how the mass media react to accusations of unbalanced reporting of the electronic cigarette industry and indeed whether we see any changes in the short, medium and long term.

Some people may question the assumption that scare stories sell but then again you could turn the question around and ask why we only really read the more controversial headlines?

Medical research into electronic cigarettes

While there is no doubt that the more negative research into electronic cigarettes grabs the headlines the fact is that the vast majority are very positive for the industry. Indeed we have seen a number of negative comments in the recent weeks which have grabbed the headlines although ultimately when you dig a little deeper they are not what they seem. We have seen claims of carcinogenic toxins created by variable voltage vaping devices only to find the level of voltage and the environment is not one that any individual would want to reach or even could reach. So what was the point of sensationalising the creation of potentially carcinogenic toxins in a non-real-world environment?

We then had a suggestion of particular chemicals being created by vaping devices, with no confirmation of the devices used, comparing them to tobacco smoke. The creation of these potentially harmful chemicals were compared to their tobacco counterparts only to find out there was less than 1% present compared to tobacco smoke. Again, you have to question the judgement of the press in highlighting this particular headline?

Is the establishment against electronic cigarettes?

In many ways the ongoing criticism of the vaping community and the vaping industry has created a siege mentality amongst many. Conspiracy theories continue to grow within this very close-knit community with suggestions that the establishment is firmly against the long-term use of electronic cigarettes. Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen, but the fact is that unbalanced reporting has certainly given supporters of the vaping industry food for thought and reasons to be concerned.

The industry has only ever really wanted balanced and subjective reporting amid signs that there are significant benefits for those looking to switch from tobacco products to their electronic counterparts. The more long term research trials coming to a close the more information will be available allowing rumour, counter rumour and blatant untruths to be addressed.

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