3 of the biggest lies ever told about vaping (and the science that refutes them)
To vape or not to vape, that seems to be a major topic of conversation these days. Mainstream and social media is filled with weird stories of people claiming that the e-liquids are secretly laced with toxic formaldehyde or that vaping is tantamount to drinking antifreeze. The more creative conspiracy theorists even claim that kids who vape are at-risk of turning into full-fledge smoking addicts almost overnight.
The truth is that each of these widely publicized stories are bold-faced lies specifically designed to frighten smokers away from vaping and directly into the arms of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma – manufacturers and peddlers of those useless, but highly expensive, nicotine gums, lozenges, and patches. Switching to vaping works, and Big Pharma is pissed! Here are three of the biggest lies ever told about vaping, and the scientific research that disproves them.
Vaping is a gateway to smoking, especially among our precious teenage population.
Even if this sentence happened to be true, whatever happened to good, old-fashioned parenting? Meanwhile, even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refutes this claim, although the public health agency is far less willing to admit it publicly. However, by reading the CDC study entitled Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students – United States, 2011-2016, the evidence is clear. Teen smoking rates plummeted to only 8 percent in 2016, down from nearly 16% just five years prior.
Coincidentally, this very same 5-year period is when vaping was really taking off in popularity across all demographics in the United States. Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health called this rate of decline in teen smoking as per the CDC “unprecedented.”.
“The rate of decline in youth smoking is unprecedented. This despite the rapid rise in e-cigarette experimentation. These data are simply not consistent with the hypothesis that vaping is going to re-normalize smoking and that e-cigarettes are a gateway to youth smoking.
The drop in e-cigarette use is also reassuring because it suggests that vaping is largely a social phenomenon that involves experimentation and that the addictive potential of these products is quite low. It also suggests that the popularity of youth vaping has peaked and that concerns about vaping taking over and leading to nicotine addiction among a huge proportion of youth are not warranted.”
The e-liquids used in electronic cigarettes are secretly laced with anti-freeze.
Good grief. Does anyone still actually believe this humungous lie? Unfortunately, this falsehood still circulates on social media and tobacco forums across the Internet. The rumor got its start when people first discovered that propylene glycol is a common ingredient of e-liquids. Some evil genius decided to announce to the whole world that propylene glycol is the very same ingredient found in many brands of anti-freeze, too. Therefore, if e-liquids contain propylene glycol, and propylene glycol can be found in anti-freeze, then by the transitive property of congruence, e-liquids = anti-freeze, right?
WRONG! While it may be true that propylene glycol can be found in both products, it was only recently added to anti-freeze by manufacturers concerned for the safety of children and pets who might accidentally drink it. Propylene glycol makes anti-freeze far less toxic if accidentally ingested. Furthermore, as far back as the 1940s, a scientist named Dr. Theodore Puck concluded that ingesting vaporized propylene glycol is not only safe, but it also kills airborne bacteria. In fact, one of Dr. Puck’s most noteworthy studies entitled The Bactericidal action of propylene glycol vapor on microorganisms suspended in air is still published on the NLB-NIH website.
The vapor from e-cigs contains formaldehyde.
This rumor was based on a very clever, but somewhat disconcerting memory that most Americans share from their days in high school biology class. Who doesn’t remember that nasty smell of formaldehyde when the teacher told us to open that jar and dissect that frog? The big fat lie was further supported by a ridiculous paper published in January 2015 that has since been debunked overwhelmingly by the scientific community. The co-authors even gave the paper a viral-friendly title just to make sure they pissed off the largest number of people possible and in the shortest amount of time.
The report entitled Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols angered so many in the scientific community that many researchers banded together and demanded that the NLB-NIH website hosting the document issue an immediate retraction. To prove their point, many of them also conducted studies of their own which prove that this story is pure fiction. One is entitled Spreading fear and confusion with misleading formaldehyde studies, authored by a former Director General of Wales in the UK, Clive Bates. A second study conducted by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiac Center in Greece is entitled The deception of measuring formaldehyde in e-cigarette aerosol: the difference between laboratory measurements and true exposure.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of Vapes.com, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.