Learn How This Small Decision Will Change Everything About Vaping Research Learn How This Small Decision Will Change Everything About Vaping Research

The editor of a famous journal bans the use of tobacco products to describe vaping

Improving public perception is a massive challenge for the vaping community given the seemingly ever-growing number of articles claiming that e-cigarettes are dangerous. Even with plenty of scientific research indicating how much safer vaping is than smoking, this anti-vaping sentiment seems to be increasingly prevalent. Polls on the subject have often agreed with this belief, with some finding the percentage of the public that understands the benefits of vaping is only around 13%, while about double that number believes vaping is just as bad, if not worse than smoking. This sort of public understanding makes it no wonder that many people think of vapes as tobacco products, despite their total lack of any tobacco plant at all.

Most average people who use this terminology aren’t hurting much by mislabeling e-cigarettes, but when respected research journals are also using patently false descriptions, the impact is much more significant. As a result, the editor-in-chief of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Dr. Marcus Munafo, has called on all researchers submitting to his journal to end the use of the term “tobacco products” when describing vaping or vaping products. He expressed these guidelines in an Op-Ed, and while it may not seem like a huge deal, looking closer reveals a significant story.

Proper Terminology

Dr. Munafo felt that it was finally time to begin reigning in the haphazard usage of the tobacco product label. According to him, this problem is only getting worse as more research is published, and if we don’t make a point to change things now, it’ll likely be much more difficult in the future. His strongly worded piece was published on the Oxford Academic website and explains why he believes it’s such an important issue moving forward. Even though the FDA insists on using the tobacco product term, Dr. Munafo strongly believes that researchers should not follow suit.

Just because the federal health agency has agreed on a patently false description, Dr. Munafo doesn’t believe that the scientific community should. In his article, he said, “Our preference is for the term ‘tobacco products’ to be reserved for those products that are made from and contain tobacco. The term ‘nicotine-containing products’ is more general, and can be applied to tobacco products but also non-tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies”.

Even though the term “nicotine-containing products” is also inaccurate when dealing with any of the many nicotine free types of e-liquid, this only makes it even more clear that we shouldn’t be using the false term tobacco products in the first place. According to Munafo, even a term traditionally accepted by sticklers, electronic nicotine delivery system, or ENDS, is not quite accurate enough to be the adequate term that is “clear, unambiguous, and scientifically appropriate.”

The Stats On Vaping

Something else that makes the distinction between tobacco products and vaping products so significant is the growing acceptance among researchers that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. In fact, a study published at the end of last year found that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a vaper.

After all, vaping was only invented as a means of helping people quit smoking, and it’s been shown to be extremely effective at that. A study also published last fall out of the University of Louisville found that vaping has a higher smoking cessation success rate than any other aid tested, including prescription drugs like Chantix.


We must be entirely clear about what vaping is if we want to improve the public perception. Too many people think that vaping is a potentially hazardous tobacco product when in reality they don’t contain any tobacco at all. For the average person this distinction is of little consequence, but when you’re a researcher whose goal is to shed light on the mysteries of the world, being as accurate as possible is vital. So everyone in the vaping community owes a huge thanks to Dr. Munafo for being one of the first in his position to take a stand and force researchers to abandon faulty terminology.

If we can successfully get most researchers to stop referring to vaping as a tobacco product, then it will become much easier to begin swaying the general public perception. Vaping has already been shown to be much safer than smoking, and very able to help smokers kick the habit for good. But it can only reach its full potential if people like you are helping their smoker friends understand the harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits of vaping.

Is it essential that we draw a clear line in the sand between vaping and tobacco products? Do you believe that if we did, the desired effect would occur? What do you think is the best way to improve the public’s perception of e-cigarettes? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.