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Vape bashing stories of the week

This week is replete with the usual spate of press items inflaming public fears about vaping. These stories typically begin with some incident of careless or improper use of an e-cigarette or its liquid, and then describe the resulting injury in horrific terms, slapping on a headline with the most inflammatory descriptors possible.

Let's start with: "Smoker's legs nearly blown off by exploding e-cigarette." It appears that a man in Wigan, England (near Manchester, in the north), bought an e-cigarette branded "Mutant Clone" and used it (according to the shop he bought it from) with the wrong battery. "It glowed and burned my hand. I dropped it and it exploded," he reported. Doctors described his injuries as similar to gunshot wounds, and prescribed several years of "agonising" skin grafts. (Whether or not skin grafts are agonising is of course a judgment call. The term seems to have been interpolated by the journalist, the same one who started the article by incorrectly calling a vaper a "smoker".) A neighbor reportedly chimed in "It was like a horror film."

"I'm back on ciggies," said the injured man. "It's safest!" Good choice, sir! It's easy to see why a 50% chance of premature death is preferable to the horrors of having to use equipment properly. Other options, though (just for reference), might be 1.) buying reputable equipment from a recommended company (other than Big Tobacco), and 2.) using the proper battery and recharging it with care according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The Telegraph even found several other burn cases and even one death, resulting from use of vaping device around oxygen equipment (smart move!!!), or using an incompatible charger. Vaporizers are deemed responsible for people's brainless use of them. Of course this is nothing new – manufacturers wishing to avoid lawsuits have to include warnings against all kinds of brainless uses of their products. I once purchased a toaster oven that included a warning against immersing it in water while it is plugged in and turned on. And the stepladder in my shed has a sticker on every step (save the bottom one) warning me: "Do not step here."

The other vape bashing stories of the week are about "e-cig poisonings" of toddlers. Of course these stories are actually about careless vapers who are negligent about leaving e-liquid around where children in their households can drink them. But headlines like "CHILDREN POISONED" are of course more exciting for readers. This sells papers and garners click-throughs.

The problem can be easily solved by mandating child-proof containers for all e-liquids, and warning users to exercise caution. That will happen as soon as the regulators get around to actually regulating the industry, something that is long overdue.

Although vape bashing journalists speak of the poisonings in horrified tones, no deaths have been reported, and for a good reason. E-liquid containing nicotine makes you puke. Profusely. The bashing articles typically state that a death could occur if a child were to drink enough. They should add "and if they could keep it down." Which they can't. This fact has been repeatedly mentioned by scientists specializing in "harm-reduction" and is routinely ignored by vape bashers touting their scare headlines about poisoning. 

It is also frequently mentioned that skin contact can be poisonous. This is perplexing, because most of us who vape have occasionally gotten a few drops of nicotine liquid on our fingers when filling our vaporizers. When that happens to me, I find that it rinses off easily, and I have not ever experienced any symptoms. How much nicotine liquid would a toddler have to smear on him- or herself in order to suffer from poisoning symptoms? How long would the nicotine have to remain on the skin before symptoms would show up? And what would those symptoms be? How difficult would it be to wash it off? No one ever explains these matters.

But it sure makes an impressive headline, doesn't it!

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