Fear-Mongering in Vogue?

During the final days of 2016, legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour was overheard lambasting president-elect Donald Trump during a train ride. While the fashion mogul has since apologized for speaking at length against the president, the magazine has forever changed. Vogue now takes a more unashamedly political stance on certain controversial issues. Most noteworthy for this industry — issues like the “growing health concerns surrounding vaping”. Fear-mongering in Vogue?

Recently, Vogue magazine published an article titled, “Health Concerns About Vaping Are Growing – Here’s Why”. The piece was written beautifully by Julia Felsenthal, and detailed her recent visit to Vape Town, an e-cigarette supplier in Manhattan’s West Village.

An article of opinion and dodgy “facts”

From the get-go, it is easy to recognize how Felsenthal feels about the e-cigarette industry as a whole. With carefully chosen words are subtle jabs, describing the e-cigarette industry as a “culture in flux”. She cites a recent John Hopkins study, which supposedly found significant levels of lead and arsenic in the aerosol of a variety of refillable tanks. Felsenthal went on to add fuel to the issue of long-term-cigarette use and the lack of knowledge therein. Surprisingly, not once did the article mention Public Health England or the American Cancer Society’s recent clinical recommendation,

“…individuals be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.”

Rather than paint an impartial picture of her experience, the writer made the e-cigarette world out to be some shadowy, dystopian sector of society. A place where illicit substances are readily available and consumed by easily impressionable underage people. Read the full article here.

Has vaping caused an epidemic of teen nicotine use?

Vaping is vaping — whether you’re doing it with or without nicotine. One of the most important and unique aspects of vaping is probably the vaper’s ability to control their own nicotine consumption.

Most noteworthy, data gathered in the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), asked teens if they use nicotine when they vape.

The questionnaire found that only about 20 percent of 10th and 12th graders and just 13 percent of 8th graders who vaped used nicotine. The author of the study says the results suggest “the recent rise in adolescent vaporizer use does not necessarily indicate a nicotine epidemic.”

What about the all the toxic chemicals?

According to the Vogue article, Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., of the University of California, believes:

“…most people just think about the e-cigarette as kind of like a cigarette, except it doesn’t have as much bad stuff in it. But when you heat it up, you just get a whole different mixture of toxic chemicals.”

As a result of the aforementioned John Hopkins study, researchers and doctors have come forth with rebuttals refuting that study’s claim. Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos was one of the first to disprove the study saying:

“Significant amount’ of metals the authors reported they found were measured in ug/kg. In fact, they are so low that for some cases (chromium and lead) I calculated that you need to vape more than 100 ml per day in order to exceed the FDA limits for daily intake from inhalational medications.”

Dr. David Dawit, the Chief Scientific Officer at Eos Scientific, believes the “toxic metals” study is full of misleading, misrepresented information. He called it, “fraught with methodological flaws”, and agrees with Dr. Farsalinos’ stance. Reference safety limits cannot be applied to vaping as the method requires constant exposure.

Felsenthal concludes her piece by referencing a mother she overheard on the phone talking about her teenage son’s burgeoning vaping habit. The mother mentioned that she tried vaping and found it disgusting.

Vaping is a method of harm reduction

While vaping is not for everyone, when the “disgusting” activity is used in the replacement of traditional tobacco cigarettes over a 10-year period, approximately 6.6 million lives can be saved from premature deaths, with 86.7 million fewer life years lost in the most optimistic scenario, according to the authors of a BMJ Tobacco Control study.

Especially relevant: last week’s Truth Tuesday.

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Andrew Figgs

Photography Major from Western Washington University . I joined MBV back in December 2014 and am happy to be working in an industry focused on helping others.