Vapers in Australia received some good news last month: According to the Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey, the country recorded its lowest number of smokers ever. Vaping was on the rise at the same time, proving that many smokers use e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
Yet, the media has portrayed this great news as something to be afraid of. The headlines in the papers missed the key point, once again choosing to push the message that vaping is as dangerous as smoking.
The survey shows that 70% of Australians who use e-cigarettes do so either to help to quit smoking, to cut down on cigarettes or to prevent taking up smoking again. If it wasn’t for vaping, a growing number of ex-smokers who would likely have turned back to smoking cigarettes.
But none of this crucial information features in the media’s reporting of the survey. The extensive evidence showing that vaping is the most effective way to quit smoking (British Medical Association, New Zealand Ministry of Health, US Center for Disease Control) is also crucially missing from the coverage.
The efforts of our partner, Legalise Vaping Australia, in combating misinformation on this topic have been herculean. We are confident that many other vapers worldwide will face strikingly similar predicaments as Australian vapers soon. With vaping increasing at the expense of tobacco in countries around the world, national surveys will continue showing an increase in the number of vapers, and this will likely lead to further misguided, sensationalist headlines.
The failure to recognise that the increase in vaping is good news is not a trait exhibited only by Australian media. This failure is replicated around the world, with news outlets pedalling fake news and scaremongering about vaping.
As vapers, we are used to such tactics, aware that numerous organisations and so-called experts are trying to advance an agenda that equates smoking to vaping. Yet that ends up with many vapers grappling with a dire choice: go back to cigarettes or attempt to continue vaping even as more and more restrictions are introduced.
The World Vapers Alliance stands ready to defend and support all you vapers out there.
Together, we are raising our voice against misinformation. If vaping is increasing at the expense of tobacco use, then there is a positive public health story to tell. Media reporting may overlook this vital point, but we are here to dispel the myths. Together, our voice matters. If you haven’t done so already, join the World Vapers Alliance and tell the world your stories about how you quit using e-cigarettes.