Despite an FDA official admitting the FDA was misleading about the connection between vaping and seizures, the media has remained silent after sensationalizing the original report.
Vaping has only been around for a little over a decade now, so it’s inevitable for there to be some bumps in the road. Despite years of encouraging research, many people remain skeptical about the impact of vaping on health, as well as teens. The FDA has been one of the most cautious voices during this time, repeatedly choosing to equate vaping and smoking, while pursuing increasing vaping regulations. However, earlier this year they admitted they had been misleading about the possible connection between vaping and seizures. Yet, despite portions of the original story being circulated ad-nauseam around mainstream media, news of the total rescinding was barely covered at all.
The vaping community points to this as a prime example of why the public perception of vaping remains so low. Instead of cleaning up their mess, the FDA is more than allowed to simply correct their original stance without getting the news to disseminate the information to the people who now have a misconception about the danger of vaping. Anti-vapers minimize these concerns as a necessary evil. But the vaping community isn’t looking to take this lying down. Regardless of what happens, this battle could be a major turning point for the future of vaping rights in America.
On Second Thought
Earlier this year, at the start of April, the FDA made an announcement that was quickly spread around the news by every major news outlet. The story covered a possible link between vaping and seizures. According to the story, between 2010 and 2019, there were 35 cases of someone having a seizure up to 24 hours after vaping. Despite the relatively low frequency of occurrence, and questionable histories of several of the 35 cases, the FDA decided to connect the two still. Even more incredibly, the FDA did try to reign in any sensationalization about the report, saying “We want to be clear that we don’t yet know if there’s a direct relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and a risk of seizure.” in the original report. Regardless, the news spread like wildfire as news outlets caught wind of a “possible connection” between seizures and e-cigarettes. The vaping community immediately blasted these misleading reports, but the damage was done.
It was only a few days later, acting FDA Commissioner Mitch Zeller walked back the report even further. He minced no words when he said there was “no causality” between vaping and an increased risk of seizure. Unfortunately, the news that vaping doesn’t actually put people at risk for seizures isn’t nearly as sellable as the alternative, so most media outlets only briefly mentioned the clarification, if at all.
This sort of perception problem is at the heart of many of the biggest hurdles still facing the vaping industry. Making matters worse, we have a growing pile of peer-reviewed evidence proving vaping is an incredible harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. In fact, we’ve known since at least 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. More recently, we got a report from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, which concluded the toxicants in e-liquid vapor are around 93% lower than in cigarette smoke. But to truly understand the level of harm reduction at play, you have to consider the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
Looking past the harm reduction value and we still have a ton to love about vaping. For instance, reports show that not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation tool, but it may actually be more likely to succeed than anything else. However, for many people, the biggest reason to reign in vaping is the impact it has on teens. Luckily we have reports which indicate this problem is more anecdotal than factual. A study of over 60,000 teens by Action on Smoking and Health concluded only between 0.1%, and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vape more than once or twice.
This is as clear cut a case as I’ve ever seen that the media is killing the vaping industry. The FDA may not be particularly on the side of vaping, but it’s the media who choose to sensationalize specific stories while feeling no responsibility to adequately fix their mistakes when they make them. We simply cannot stand by and let the public perception of vaping continue to go in the toilet because of misleading reports. That’s why it’s on each, and every one of us to support vaping by teaching the smokers in our lives about everything switching to e-cigarettes could mean for them.
Do you think the media is a significant problem for vaping? What’s the biggest hurdle facing vaping moving forward? How should we teach others about the value of vaping? 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.