Why You Can’t Always Believe What You Read About Vaping Why You Can’t Always Believe What You Read About Vaping

Rumors about vaping are nothing new, but concerns over PG are especially ridiculous

Given the nature of vaping, it should come as no surprise that there are countless rumors regarding the safety of e-cigarettes. They’re such a new and prevalent device that it’s only natural people would speculate about the possible outcomes. Whether genuine concern or little more than trolling, the result is the same, that vaping has a much harder time gaining legitimacy. Improving the public perception of vaping is one of the biggest challenges facing the community, and misleading research spread like wildfire is only making things a lot worse.

Some of the most common of all vaping rumors involve the propylene glycol, which makes up a large part of most common e-liquids. While these myths are varied, a perennial favorite of the anti-vapers is one that seems to suggest that vaping is so dangerous, that it’s actually 15 times more carcinogenic than smoking. This claim understandably got many people’s attention, but when you take a look at their research design, their credibility falls all apart very quickly.

A Massive Rumor

Although it was only ever one poorly designed study which found these scary results, that didn’t stop news outlets around the world from spreading the findings as gospel truth. The study in question was published in the typically reputable New England Journal of Medicine, but that’s about where the credibility of this report ends. Several key pieces of information were left out of the final report, making it incredibly difficult for anyone to test the legitimacy adequately. These include what type of vaporizer was used, and even which settings the device was on.

In light of this, the scary results which found vaping to be much more dangerous than even traditional tobacco can never be verified. It didn’t take long for other researchers to call out the researchers for failing to include many pieces of standard information. In fact, a group of forty experts from around the world submitted a signed letter to the New England Journal of Medicine asking them to retract the bombastic and misleading article. Regardless, the damage was already done. Given the nature of news these days, most outlets jumped on the chance at a story with such headline appeal, regardless of the concerns from academia.


Making this whole matter even worse is the fact that PG actually has far more uses than people believe. We’ve known since the early 1900s that PG has antibacterial properties. This culminated in the 1940s when a researcher concluded PG has the potential as a treatment for conditions such as pneumonia and strep throat. The typically very anti-vaping FDA even classifies PG as “generally recognized as safe,” with the only noted issue being skin irritation when used in large quantities.

Another factor that makes it so obvious the NEJM study is misleading is uncontroversial nature of the PG found in many other harmless products we eat every day. For example, did you know that many types of ice cream use PG, or that it’s used in many brands of cake and frosting? It’s very unlikely you haven’t had PG in the last year if you enjoy either of these treats. Some types of sweet tea even use PG as a thick sweetener.


The ease with which nasty and misleading rumors get spread about vaping is quite discouraging. Especially when you realize that the same outlets who willingly spread false information, refuse to report the countless studies which indicate vaping is one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools ever. It just goes to show that you genuinely cannot believe everything that you read on the internet. If you value the truth, you must always be sure to do your due diligence and adequately research topics. Peer-reviewed research which can be repeated by third parties is the cornerstone of any legitimate scientific discovery. You should always be wary of someone only using a single study to support their perspective. Chances are, they know expanding the evidence base would expose them as frauds peddling misinformation. So be sure to always ask for the proof.

Have you ever heard any rumors about the dangers of vaping? What’s the best way to combat these misleading stories? How can we best educate the public about the benefits 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.


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.