Despite the fact that vaping has been proven to be safer than smoking, many people still correlate the two as one in the same, and it’s putting many lives at risk.
Many people still view vaping as another form of smoking and do not differentiate the two at all. Because of this, vaping has ended up getting thrown into the same stigma as cigarette smoking.
Why does this correlation between the two exist? How does the correlation harm our future?
It is important to understand how the government regulates and views vaping, how studies get misinterpreted, and how people will little knowledge of vaping interpret it.
The Government Regulates Vaping In The Same Way As Tobacco
Vaping is not a tobacco product. Nothing that goes into e-liquid comes from tobacco. While both tobacco and e-liquid contain nicotine, they are hardly similar. E-cigarettes and vaporizers do not contain tobacco, and many do not even have nicotine in their solution.
Despite this, the FDA chose to regulate vaping products as if they were tobacco products. While this is not true at all, and the regulations have since changed, this undoubtedly harmed the public perception of vaping.
The initial lumping of vaping into the same category as tobacco products harms vaping because when the public sees the government treating vaping and tobacco products in the same way, they tend to assume the risks of each are similar. Most people do not have the time to dig into an issue and comprehend the nuanced details of what they’re reading.
As people associate vaping with the same dangers and risks as smoking, the stigma against vaping increases. Smokers are less likely to adopt vaping, an alternative that the Royal College of Physicians deemed to be 95% safer than smoking.
Many local and state governments continue to further the stigma by including vaporizers and e-cigarettes in their “smoke-free air acts.” These acts were created to eliminate the risk associated with secondhand smoke.
In no way is this a fair comparison. Vaporizers do not produce smoke, and multiple studies show that secondhand vapor from vaporizers poses no threat at all to public health.
Studies Get Misinterpreted
One of the worst ways in which vaping gets stigmatized and associated with smoking is the misinterpretation of studies. Studies consistently compare the two, as if they were the same with only a few differences.
Smoke from tobacco contains over 7,000 substances with more than 50 known carcinogens. Vapor from vaporizers has four ingredients in it. Comparing the two is like comparing soda and gasoline. Drinking one will kill you, and while drinking the other may not be the best possible option for your health, it isn’t toxic or deadly.
This stark difference has not stopped studies from comparing the two. One of the most common misconceptions that studies of vaping forwarded was the idea that e-cigarettes contain formaldehyde just like regular cigarettes.
We’ve written about the formaldehyde study before, but to sum it up, a team of researchers found that at temperatures and voltage levels that no reasonable human could ever vape, vaporizers produce formaldehyde. Dr. Konstantin Farsalinos carried out a counter study that showed that at reasonable settings, vaporizers do not produce formaldehyde.
Unfortunately, this did not prevent many major news outlets like NPR, Scientific American, and NBC News from spreading this story. The majority of these outlets compared the formaldehyde found in cigarettes to the levels found in vapor.
These headlines likely influenced the public’s perception about vaping and encouraged them to associate vaporizers with cigarettes. If someone is a smoker, and they believe that vaping is just as bad or the equivalent of smoking, they are less likely to quit smoking to take up vaping.
This harms the potential of vaping to improve the health of millions of people around the world.
Vaping Is A New And Unfamiliar Technology That Many Still Do Not Understand
Because early e-cigarettes were designed to look like real cigarettes, many people assumed that there was no difference between the two. If it looks like a fish, smells like a fish, and in this case, has the same name as a fish, most assume it probably is a fish.
For vaping, however, we know this isn’t true. Not only does the vapor not smell like tobacco smoke, but it is also much less harmful.
At a New York City Council health committee meeting, Councilman Peter Vallone said “I’m watching puffs of vapor go up in this room. It is confusing.”
He said this right as he was about to vote on whether or not to ban vaping from being used in bars, restaurants, and other indoor spaces. When lawmakers have trouble understanding how vaping works, it should come as no surprise that the general public may be confused too.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, “Because many of the e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them, they can lead to confusion or confrontation.”
Her statement illustrates how many people view e-cigarettes and vaporizers. People don’t understand what’s going on with vaporizers. They don’t know that vaporizers are not burning plant matter that results in combustion. They don’t understand that vaporizers do not have anywhere near the number of dangerous and toxic substances as cigarettes do.
The comparisons will continue. The act looks similar. For a long time, the only e-cigarettes available looked exactly like regular cigarettes. Drinking a cup of gasoline and drinking a cup of Coca-Cola look similar, but the results of doing either one remain drastically different.
How This Correlation Jeopardizes Our Future And Puts Lives At Risk
To sum everything up, people are appalled and disgusted by e-cigarettes because they associate them with the same emotions of disgust and disdain that they associate with cigarettes.
As people become educated about vaping and the many differences between it and smoking, they change their views. However, the more these false correlations spread, the harder it will be to convince people that vaping is different than smoking.
With over 1 billion people projected to die from smoking over the next century, this is not an issue to take lightly. There are LIVES AT RISK. With some referring to vaporizers as “mouth fedoras,” it is easy to pass them off as a silly trend that warrants no attention.
In reality, it is a serious matter of life and death. The best way to move forward will be continued education and standing up to those that tout false information about vaporizers. Who knows, these mouth fedoras may just save a billion lives.
Do you have any ideas on how to end this stigma?
What else could be done to help people understand how different smoking and vaping are? Let us know on our Facebook page!
We’d love to hear your ideas. This is a problem that we as a society must come together to solve.