When people have severe allergic reactions to peanuts, we have every sympathy with their experience – and rightly so. But if the BBC responded by fabricating a health panic about the general population’s peanut consumption, we’d think Auntie had gone completely bonkers.
This is exactly what’s happening with vaping. The case of Ewan Fisher – a 16-year-old boy suffering with severe lung inflammation after a presumed allergic reaction from using an e-cigarette – has dominated headlines in recent days.
In a journal article about his case, doctors said, “we consider e-cigarettes as ‘much safer than tobacco’ at our peril.” Recent hospitalisations and deaths linked to black market e-cigarette use in the United States have added fuel to calls for crackdowns. Barely a week goes by without a new study claiming that e-cigarettes are not as safe as previously thought.
If only the same amount of column inches were devoted to putting these events in their proper scientific context.
Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, has stressed that cases such as Ewan’s are “very rare… in absolute terms [the risk of vaping] is extremely small – and, crucially, far smaller than that of smoking.”