November 13, 2013

WSJ MarketWatch: 5 Ways to Lie About E-Cigarettes

Yesterday, the WallStreet Journal’s MarketWatch aired a segment on e-cigarettes that pushed the limits of what it means to ‘get it wrong’:

 

Most of our readers will recognize the wild inaccuracies in this clip, for those that may not, I’ll go through them just as systematically as the ‘reporter’ above:

Number 5: “They’re not just for nicotine, e-cigarettes are easily adaptable to all kinds of substances, notably marijuana and potentially crack cocaine

While some marijuana vaporizers and e-cigarettes share similar design elements like the battery, the notion that they are ‘easily adaptable to all kinds of substances’ is inaccurate. Marijuana vaporizers and e-cigarettes are built for their intended purpose and marketed as such. Not to mention that throwing out ‘crack cocaine’ in this segment is a completely unfounded, fearmongering claim. If I were addicted to crack, the last thing on my mind would be finding a way to vaporize it so as to reduce the harm to my body. It’s crack we’re talking about here. Crack.

Number 4: “It’s still Big Tobacco”

While Mr. Bemis is correct in acknowledging that the ‘Big 3′ – Altria, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard have all entered the e-cigarette market, to write the entire industry & product off as simply ‘Big Tobacco’ with all its negative connotations, is wildly incorrect. Electronic cigarettes gained their presence in the United States from the work of thousands of entrepreneurs and a strong community presence. Just because Big Tobacco knew which was the wind was blowing, doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes are a revisit to the unscrupulous history of Big Tobacco.

Number 3: “Studies have still found carcinogens in the vapor that gets inhaled and the secondary vapor has been shown to cause respiratory and disease problems

Like most misrepresentations of e-cigarettes in the larger media, this reporter goes back to the studies that have detected carcinogens and toxins in e-cigarette vapor without mentioning that many of the same studies found these at incredibly insignificant levels, lower than OSHA regulations allow for in some cases. He’s also neglected to mention that multiple studies have shown that no real risk from secondhand vapor. For a full rundown on e-cigarette research to date, check out our research tracker here.

Number 2: “If you switch to e-cigarettes, you haven’t really quit smoking. E-cigarettes are marketed as a smoking cessation tool and people are using them to get their nicotine fixes in places where now, they can’t even smoke”

E-cigarettes have never been, and likely will never be, marketed as a smoking cessation tool. While many do ultimately quit using nicotine with e-cigarettes, the reality is that they are a far less harmful alternative to an extremely deadly product worldwide. In any case, this statement is tantamount to saying that those who drive electric cars haven’t really stopped driving, it senselessly demonizes something meant to improve our daily lives.

Number 1: “Kids Love em!”

It’s become apparent to this writer that no matter how much research shows to the contrary, people who don’t like electronic cigarettes will always remind us to ‘think of the children’. The fact that adults can like a product in a number of flavors too, doesn’t immediately make it guilty of marketing to children. If it did, virtually every alcoholic beverage producer in the world would be just as guilty. The truth is that teenagers want to smoke because it’s bad, and e-cigarettes have little to no appeal to this demographic.

 

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