Are Non-Smokers REALLY Taking up Vaping as Reports Suggest?

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We get it already. There is a need to make as much money as possible. That’s why we continue to see these over-the-top exaggerated headlines from the media. Throw up a poorly written article but have a super-attractive headline, have tons of people click to it (because, who can stay away from such an outrageous headline?) and make tons of money from the online visitors. This is essentially how BuzzFeed became so large. Well, the media is at it yet again with disgraceful e-cigarette headlines.

The BBC, Telegraph, The Independent and about half a dozen more high profile UK media outlets all wrote articles around the headline “vaping shops selling to non-smokers.” Of course, when you see this, even as a vaper, you are initially outraged. Yeah, we were too. But then we remembered: we live in the age of sensationalism. Let’s settle down and read the actual article. And that’s when the fun began.

The Royal Society for Public Health issued a statement saying that roughly 90% of vape shops were either knowingly or inadvertently selling e-cigs to non-smokers. One hundred (out of around 1,700 UK) vape shops were investigated.

The results found that a little less than 50% of these vape shops didn’t ask customers if they were former, current or non-smokers. Of those, about 75% still encouraged non-smokers to take up vaping. Well, those are some pretty alarming statistics. But, let’s look at this more in-depth.

Video footage was released showing one shop (yes, you read that right – just one) recommending nicotine laced e-liquid to a non-smoker (journalist?). Well, that’s how the BBC described it. Yet for anyone who actually watched how the events played out, it’s a bit different than how it was documented by the vape-hating BBC.

The vape shop employee did in fact recommend 6mg nicotine e-liquid to the non-smoker journalist, but only after he initially said, “well if you’re not smoking, I’d say just go for a zero [mg nicotine]. There’s no point in getting addicted to nicotine if it’s something you can avoid.”

Additionally, these media outlets reported that another vape shop discouraged the “non-smoker” from purchasing e-cigs / e-liquid as it’s not something you want to get hooked on. However, of course that garnered much less attention in these reports. In fact, only one line.

The fact that this video evidence shows that these vape shops are going against the Independent British Vape Trade Association’s voluntary code of conduct is another story altogether. Yes, it’s true that this behaviour should not be condoned. But cherry picking data and showing that most shops “encouraged non-smokers to start vaping?” That’s just wrong, especially since the Office for National Statistics and Action on Smoking and Health have literally proven that more than 90% of UK vapers are current or former smokers. Let’s also not forget that non-smokers don’t just pick up vaping.

But again – what can we expect from the media?

Photo Credit: Flickr – Luiz Huerta/CC BY 2.0