The editor-in-chief of Nicotine and Tobacco Research believes the commonly used terminology is flawed and misleading
The battle over public perception has always had a significant impact on the vaping industry. Despite the growing mountain of research indicating its relative safety, many people still believe that vaping could potentially be just as, if not more dangerous than smoking. Polls have even found that only around 13% of adults understand the research and believe that e-cigarettes are much safer than combustible cigarettes. Given how poor public perception is, it’s no surprise that most people consider vaporizers tobacco products even though they don’t contain any actual tobacco.
While this is probably good enough for the average person, academic journals have also fallen into the bad habit of referring to vapes as tobacco products, which is a decidedly unscientific way to conduct themselves. That’s why the editor-in-chief of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Marcus Munafo, recently published an opinion piece prohibiting the use of “tobacco products” when referring to vaporizers. While it may not seem like a huge deal, taking a deeper look reveals precisely why this is such a significant win for the vaping industry.
Marcus Munafo recently decided to put his foot down on what he believes is a growing issue among articles submitted to the Nicotine and Tobacco Research Journal. In a strong, clear opinion piece published to the Oxford Academic website, Munafo lays out precisely why he believes that we must move past this misleading and flawed terminology. He identifies a primary reason the term is used so frequently as the insistence of the FDA to consider vaping a tobacco product, despite the lack of any real tobacco.
But according to Munafo, this is not nearly a good reason to adopt such a flat-out false descriptor, especially in an academic environment where clarity is king:
Our preference is for the term ‘tobacco products’ to be reserved for those products that are made from and contain tobacco. The term ‘nicotine-containing products’ is more general, and can be applied to tobacco products but also non-tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies.
He goes on to acknowledge the fact that the term “nicotine-containing products” is not adequate to describe the vast array of nicotine-free e-liquids. Which only further highlights the need for specific descriptions when doing scientific research. He even suggests the term electronic nicotine-delivery system or ENDS is not sufficient to meet their goal of being “clear, unambiguous, and scientifically appropriate.”
Evidence For Vaping
Another noteworthy reason to make a point of distinction between vaping and smoking is the growing evidence that shows vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Research published last fall even concluded that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
More than that, vaping was invented, and has been shown to be an incredible smoking cessation tool. In fact, research published by the University of Louisville tested the success rates of different smoking cessation tools and found that vaping was the best, even beating out prescription drugs.
Changing the poor public perception of vaping starts with being clear about what it is. The bottom line is that e-liquid vaping does not contain any tobacco at all. While it’s somewhat understandable for the average citizen to misuse or misunderstand the correct terminology, it should be a primary goal of any scientist to be as accurate as possible. That’s why it’s so fantastic to see leaders like Marcus Munafo take charge and force academics to face their bad habits.
By starting with those doing the research, we can hopefully begin to foster a culture in which vaping is legitimized and supported for its significant harm reduction and smoking cessation value. Especially given how successful vaping has been at getting people off cigarettes for good. But the only way that can happen is if more people come to understand just how much safer vaping is than smoking. This must be taken care of If we ever hope to live in a world where tobacco isn’t the leading cause of preventable death and disease.
Do you think it’s vital that we make a clear distinction between vaping and tobacco products? Will making this change have the desired effect, if not why? How can we help improve the public perception of the benefits of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.
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