Many vaping activists believe that one reason for most misconceptions about vaping is the way in which the media covers the issue. Ordinary people are constantly exposed to claims that vaping causes erectile dysfunction, makes you blind or is the cause of EVALI. While at the same time, almost nobody covers the fact that about 82 million smokers have been able to quit thanks to vaping. One of the most significant public health victories in the last few decades goes unnoticed by large portions of the public and decision-makers alike. Instead, every bogus study or survey gets enormous media coverage whilst every truthful and enlightening report is passed over.
So I got interested and wanted to check if this hypothesis is actually true. Like most activists, I have set up a Google alert with the word “vaping” and decided to check for one week (23.4.22-1.5.22) what kind of articles I receive from the alert (här is the complete list). This is obviously not a scientific study. It’s rather my conception of the coverage – so likely a bit biased. Nonetheless, I think it is interesting.
According to my account, more than 40% of the articles were negative, and I have to admit, I was a bit surprised because I expected more negative coverage. 29% were neutral and 29% positive out of 41 articles.
I randomly chose this week, excluded all articles paywalled, pure business reporting, ads, and press releases, and did not double count the same article in different outlets. I categorized the articles only on how they covered the issue and not if I would agree with the specific point or policy. Which means do both sides get a fair representation or just the anti-vaping crowd?
Even though I expected even more negativity, the way vaping is currently covered by media is a problem — for public health and consumers. If governments followed the science, 200 million lives could be saved worldwide by following the UK’s lead in encouraging smokers to switch to vaping. Instead, the majority of what we read about vaping is negative. The scaremongering and lack of information about vaping are hurting smokers who are scared by misinformation, to make the switch away from harmful cigarettes. This hostility to vaping also hurts hundreds of thousands of activists worldwide and makes their mission to enable as many people as possible to quit smoking even harder.
What do you think? How do you perceive the media when it comes to vaping? Leave a comment below!