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The Case of the Exploding eCigarette and Other Tales of Mystery from the Fear Mongering Media

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If you can count on one thing from the media these days, it’s bad news. Every time you pick up a newspaper, scroll through an Internet newsfeed or turn on the television, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be exposed to stories that are anything but pleasant. Whether it’s political drama, an international health crisis or a spree of violence, the media is always going to find something to scare us with.

Recently, the scare tactic of choice has been to cover all of the stories of “exploding ecigarettes” and the harm they’ve caused unfortunate folks who were just innocently trying to vape. According to the news, ecigarettes are dangerous, volatile and all but ticking time bombs for anyone who lets them into their home.

But we know better, don’t we?

While a lackluster new story that’s filled with incorrect facts and scary images might be enough to terrify the average Joe and sour his opinion about ecigarettes, for those of us who vape, we know it’s a crock and we’re not buying it.

The fact-o-meter

There’s one fundamental problem with every news story that involves an exploding ecigarette: it’s delivered with a slant. What does this mean? Well, let’s take a look at one such example of a slanted media story:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/11158544/Smokers-legs-nearly-blown-off-by-exploding-e-cigarette.html

Mutant Clone ModThis piece of “journalism” appears to be hard-hitting at first glance, painting us a gruesome picture of how a man’s life was nearly ended by a rogue ecigarette that simply blew up one day. But let’s take a look at what’s wrong with it:

  • In the story, the type of ecigarette that exploded was a Mutant Clone, a complicated mechanical mod that can be tinkered with to unsafe levels if a person isn’t experienced in using it. However, the picture that’s shown on the website is of a cig-alike product, like those that are sold in gas stations! There’s a big difference going on here and one that the average person isn’t going to realize.
  • There’s a tremendous use of hyperbole in this article that’s simply meant to scare people into thinking ecigarettes are unstable. Phrases like, “an e-cigarette blew up and nearly tore off his legs,” or “the surgeon said it was like someone had used a gun,” serve not to add any fact to the story, but rather incite reckless emotion. In journalism, they call this an appeal to pathos: an appeal to your emotions, rather than an appeal to logic, or an appeal to logos.
  • The shop that sold the device blamed the wrong batteries for the explosion,” makes it sound like it was the retailer’s fault, but in reality, the man who was injured was using clone batteries in a device that wasn’t suited to handle them. The shop merely sold the device, not the knockoff batteries that are responsible for the “explosion!”

These are just three of the major problems with this article and every other that hits the news about exploding ecigarettes and other complications. Nine times out of ten, these incidents are caused by people using knockoff hardware or fiddling with mechanical mods when they don’t truly understand them—but, the media groups every story into one big scare campaign for ecigarettes as a general term.

Think about it this way: if a man buys a chainsaw, ignores the safety instructions and decides to tinker with it, only to have it chop one of his arms off, is it really going to make national news? Furthermore, is there really going to be a national debate about the legitimacy of chainsaws? Probably not.

Don’t be fooled

The main thing to remember when it comes to news stories about exploding ecigarettes and other like-incidents is that many times, the person writing it has little to no experience with ecigarettes or doesn’t understand the facts that are presented to them, or even how to explain these things to a public that might not understand them without a crash-course in ecigarettes.

Or, worse yet, news stories like these are being published by those people who have already formed their own negative opinions about what ecigarettes are and what they can do. There’s nothing worse than a biased journalist at the helm of a national news machine, but unfortunately, it appears that this is sometimes the case.

Always remember this: not everything you read in the news about ecigarettes is true, so it’s worth your time and effort to look a little closer—you might be surprised, outraged, upset or angry to learn that sometimes, the story is over-sensationalized or just plain wrong.

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