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Why do people misunderstand vaping?

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We've spent hours and hours (days and days, really) discussing the views of the public regarding vaping, and we've continued to address legislation and regulatory overreach centered around e-cigarettes and vape juice; one question still remains: Why do people misunderstand vaping? Why, with the plethora of research that exists, do people consistently mischaracterize vaping as an activity worthy of incessant scrutiny? Why do large media groups conflate the dangers of actual cigarettes with vaping? 

It's an easy draw

Just today, I read an article about a man who suffered severe burns on his leg due to an exploded battery. I'd link the article, but I'm not going to send them the web traffic. In the article, it was revealed that the man had the battery in his pocket (a HUGE no-no), and because of the accident he's decided to sue the battery-maker as well as the vape shop he purchased the battery from. Was there any mention of the fact that he deliberately avoided following traditional battery safety protocol? Of course not. Was there mention of battery safety techniques in any capacity? No way. However, the article, with the flagrant title, "Smoking didn't kill him, but a vape battery almost did." made sure to point out that vaping has been extremely dangerous for many people and has sent thousands of people to the emergency room in the past two years. Did they mention that over 400,000 people die every year in the United States from smoking-related illnesses? No, that would be laughable. 

The reason these publications pick up these stories and run with them in such a divisive fashion is the same reason you only see "VAPING BAD" whenever you run the word "vape" through any search-engine. It gets clicks. Online publications thrive and grow from one thing, and one thing only: site traffic. Paid by advertisers, media sites depend on as much online foot-traffic as they can possibly withstand. You're not paying for the content, but if you happen to click on an ad for dish soap and make a purchase, they get paid. In several instances, if you simply see an ad for dish soap, they get paid. But, you have to see it. They need you to see it. So, what do they do? They write the most flagrant and appealing headlines possible because they know you're going to click on it. The best way to combat this sort of thing sounds so simple it's ridiculous: stop clicking on these articles. If you stop reading, they'll stop writing. It's that simple. Additionally, you can do your best to promote, share, and write articles that diffuse the misinformation so as to increase the volume of truth-filled articles that are publicly available. It's not science, it's economics.

Money seeds grow money trees

Economics drive nearly every decision in politics, industry, and most importantly, health. Take the Master Settlement Agreement, for example. States were worried about the damages that cigarettes were causing to their budgets (because sickly smokers cost a lot of money), so they drafted an agreement with Tobacco companies that would essentially pay for the effect to their bottom line. This isn't the only example of regulators and legislatures taking economics into account when it comes to "tobacco" products. Just last week, we saw San Francisco as the first major city to pen an outright ban of vapor products, and they did so with economics at the front of their brains.

In fact, the city came out and said that the tax money lost from vaping being banned wouldn't matter, because those sales would just be converted to cigarettes anyway. Again, WHAT?! "Let's ban vapes because we want to protect the children from harm," has a completely different ring to it than, "well, if they don't vape at least we'll make money from them buying cigarettes," doesn't it? It's financially driven. There's just no way around it. On top of that, it's important to remember that governments and special-interest groups make far less money with people dropping cigarettes for vaping. 

They're willing to say whatever it takes to convince the public that vaping is just-as, if not more, harmful than traditional cigarettes. They'll pull out all the stops, and they won't stop until the misinformation campaign has done the harm they hoped it would to the vaping industry. This isn't because they genuinely believe that e-cigarettes are more harmful than traditional cigarettes. They can't possibly believe that and retain their qualifications as public health advocates. However, when their primary interest is money, and not protecting the health of the population the represent, they're going to spin every minute possibility into an unstoppable ball of yarn, and let the public play with that yarn while they quietly rake in thousands upon thousands of tax dollars from their cigarette sales. 

They're not in charge, and that is a problem for them

If we've learned anything from the way the government and large corporations operate, they're very unhappy when they're not in the thick of things. Governments rely on taxes and other revenue, and large pharmaceutical companies rely on being in the center of health-product markets. When vaping came along, it was (and still is) a consumer-driven industry with innovation and profits falling to individuals without a lot of influence in the political system. Pharmaceutical companies were no longer seeing the profits they once had from their smoking cessation products, and the government wasn't getting their super-fat checks from Big Tobacco any longer. The vaping industry was completely out of the web of influence that these two major players rely on for revenue, and, quite frankly, they're pretty upset about it.

Imagine, if you would, if vaping was first invented by someone who worked at a major pharmaceutical company. First of all, it would have been FDA approved within the hour, and second of all, it would have absolutely been promoted by the government as an effective and far-safer alternative to traditional smoking. That's just the truth. Because it is. Not because we say it is, but because science literally proves it is. However, because they don't get to stick their hand in the jar and grab whatever cash they can get their fingers on, they're choosing instead to mislead the public and change their opinions of vaping in spite of what the science and research says. Notice that all of the studies that say vaping is bad are produced by universities that get funding from special-interest groups that are funded by the government that makes its money from people continuing to smoke? Duh. Obviously. Of course. If it were any other way, vaping would be heralded as an absolute revolution for public health, but as it stands, it's really just getting in the way.

This is why the public is so misinformed. The government wants them to be, media companies want them to be, and pharmaceutical companies need them to be. We have to fight this. Share blogs, share articles, tell everyone you know that's willing to listen - vaping needs your voice, and it needs it now. 

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