Electronic cigarettes are still a relatively new technology that has not gone without controversy.
As with any new technology, there will always be questions surrounding it and parties who are against it. In the e-cig world, new information, studies, and propaganda surface every day. Unfortunately, the disagreement on safety standards for e-cigarettes is causing a lot of confusion within the general public. Vaping is still widely misunderstood, and right now it seems as though the anti-vapers have the upper hand without having all the facts. Here’s why:
People Don’t Know What to Believe
The very nature of uncertainty creates a perfect environment for harboring skepticism. It’s true we don’t know everything about electronic cigarettes yet. Researchers are hard at work debunking myths and finding truths about the safety and efficacy of e-cigs.
In the meantime, it’s given people space to run rampant with false claims and conflicting arguments. Take for example the recent formaldehyde claims. While one party states e-cigarettes produce deadly formaldehyde levels, many studies state it’s only produced when unrealistic amounts of vapor are inhaled. The general uncertainty surrounding any new technology like electronic cigarettes means whoever shouts the loudest gets heard, which brings us to our next cause of misinformation.
The Familiar Conclusion Is the Truth
This is called “the illusion of truth.” It means when people aren’t sure what to believe on their own, they are more likely to believe something they have heard before. So when consumers repeatedly hear “all e-cigs are owned by tobacco companies,” which is completely false, they continue to believe it as a truth.
Propaganda Is Effective
News sources are all known for using headlines that will instantly grab their audience’s attention, which makes complete sense—most of the time. The problem is when they run out of stories to report or need to fill a short spot, and that’s where propaganda comes into play. For instance, a local news station based in Tampa Bay aired a story with the catching headline “Are E-Cigs Making You Fat?”…what?! A headline like that is bound to grab attention. But, what was this story all about? Propaganda! It was centered around the light from an e-cig charger. This news story claimed that if people sleep with their e-cigs charging in their bedrooms at night, the light prevents them from getting a good night’s sleep which in turn causes them to gain weight…quite the slippery slope isn’t it?
Using dramatic, and even subtle subliminal imagery is also an effective tactic for influencing the opinion of the general public. People are visual thinkers and tend to believe claims more if pictures accompany them. Some of the images circulating with anti-vaping claims, like a man in a gas mask or a child holding an e-cig, are meant to shock the viewer into believing the information they’re being sold. And most of the time it works.
Continued studies are finding evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to tobacco smoking and an effective method in smoking harm reduction. Ongoing research will continue to debunk unfounded propaganda and anti-vaping claims, but in the meantime, vapers must make their own educated choices.