When vaping first started to become popular, anti-vaping groups immediately began spreading misinformation and even outright lies to curb the growing exciting surrounding this new phenomenon. Lobbyists of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and even Wall Street felt threatened that vaping would eventually cut into their trillions of dollars in profits, and something had to be done. Here are three of the most ridiculous lies ever told about vaping, all of which are commonly shared on social media.
1. Electronic cigarettes contain antifreeze.
This statement is an outright lie. One of the primary ingredients of e-liquids used in vaping is a substance called propylene glycol (PG), which is also an ingredient of some antifreeze brands. However, PG can also be found in lots of other ordinary foods, such as cake frostings and flavored teas. The really odd thing about this falsehood is that PG was only recently added to antifreeze as a way to make it safer if a human or an animal accidentally consumed it.
2. The vapor from e-cigs contains formaldehyde.
This vaping lie was the result of a bogus “research study” published back in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine which was almost immediately debunked by several leaders of the scientific community. The report contained the attention-grabbing title “Hidden Formaldehyde in E-Cigarette Aerosols,” and the article immediately went viral on social media.
But when it was discovered that the co-authors of the study either intentionally or mistakenly heated the e- liquids to alarming high temperatures which no vaper would ever use (which resulted in the formaldehyde measurements) the damage had already been done. The myth that e-cig vapor contains formaldehyde is still being spread online nearly every day. Read more about the debunking of this vaping lie here and here.
3. Vaping causes a disease called Popcorn Lung.
Before the rise in popularity of vaping, most people would think that popcorn lung was a made-up disease. But when anti-vaping lobbyists began associating it with vaping, suddenly the term popcorn lung became a whole lot more believable. Unfortunately, this claim is also largely incorrect, although not an outright lie.
In the early days of the mass-production of e-liquids, a few vape juice vendors were using a substance called dactyl which has been associated with high risks of developing the very real disease of popcorn lung. The vaping myth began with a news report that some factory workers where diacyl was being used were coming down with the respiratory ailment in huge numbers. Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health later discovered that the factory workers were ingesting 750 times the level of diacyl than could be found in any brand of e-liquid, and the vaping lie was immediately debunked.
Once the vaping industry learned just how potentially harmful diacetyl could be, most e-liquid suppliers immediately stopped using it. Through self-regulation, the vaping industry handled the situation all by itself and with no help from the FDA.
Big tobacco and Big Pharma want smokers to remain addicted to cigarettes. Smoking addiction is their livelihood, after all. Big Tobacco sells the cigarettes, and Big Pharma sells the useless smoking cessation products to help cure smokers stop. But they never do, and so everyone just keeps on making money. Vaping threatens this cash cow scenario. So, the next time you read something about vaping that sound truly diabolical, do your research. Chances are, the “vaping study” was probably funded by Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, or some other anti-vaping advocacy group.