The art of objective journalism seems to be dead, especially where electronic cigarettes are concerned. In the past few months, we’ve seen ecigs gain an increasing presence in the media. Unfortunately, a lot of that coverage is full of faulty research and disinformation. While scoping out the headlines this week, we found three prime examples of what happens when e-cig news goes wrong. Check out these recent news clips and decide for yourself who wins the award for worst e-cig reporting.
Nominee #1 – WebMD
WebMD is usually the go-to source for information on all things related to health. Lately, the website has started reporting on e-cigarettes and this week’s article was a mix-up of half-truths and vague research. The article starts by summarizing last year’s CDC report, claiming that e-cigs act as a dangerous gateway that lure teens into smoking. As usual, the reader gets a one-sided view of the issue and no trustworthy research to back the claims.
In reality, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center studied this theory in detail by surveying 1,300 college students about their e-cig use. Researchers found that only 43 participants used e-cigs as their first nicotine product and only one of those went on to smoke cigarettes. Contrary to WebMD’s misleading article, the research revealed that the vast majority of vaping college kids had switched to e-cigs as an alternative to their former tobacco smokes.
Nominee #2 – USA Today
This week, USA Today joined the party of biased publications with an article about how e-liquid is poisoning Americans. The article warns that the American Association of Poison Control Centers has received 651 reports related to e-cigs and nicotine liquids. However, there is no mention of what these reports actually said or what was involved.
When you dig a little deeper, you find that the National Poison Data System reported more than a million calls for “information only” in 2012. So how many of the 651 reports related to e-cigs were calls for information rather than emergencies? It’s reasonable to think that some of the calls could have been people curious about the ingredients in their e-liquid or worried after spilling a drop of e-liquid on their skin. However, USA Today didn’t go to the trouble of finding out more information on the 651 calls because it makes a much better story if you let the reader assume that all of those reports were poisoning emergencies.
Nominee #3 – Medical Xpress
Medical Xpress is supposed to be a quick source for recent medical news, but this week, they reported some e-cig news that was completely outrageous. Apparently, doctors have diagnosed a man in Spain with pneumonia and blamed his condition on vaping. So the natural conclusion is that e-cigs cause pneumonia, right? Wrong! The real story is that the 50-year-old patient was hospitalized for another condition and then he developed pneumonia. The doctors said his e-cig made him sick, but they left out the fact that hospital-acquired pneumonia is the second most common hospital-originating infection.
It might sound unbelievable, but it’s not the first time this has happened. It’s actually the second time that doctors have blamed pneumonia on e-cigs. The first patient was a woman with a previous history of asthma and numerous other medical problems. She had recently been exposed to fumigation chemicals when her apartment was sprayed for bed bugs. When she developed pneumonia, her doctors attributed it to the e-cig she was using. That’s logical, right?
The Winner Is…
Which of these news reports do you think is the most outrageous? Leave a comment and cast your vote for a winner!