If that confusion drives vapers back to smoking or discourages others from making the switch, it will have deadly consequences.

The percentage of Americans who understand that e-cigarettes are less hazardous than the conventional, combustible kind has fallen by 14 points since June 2018, according to a new Morning Consult poll. That shift is no doubt largely due to misleading warnings from public health agencies and irresponsible reporting by major news media outlets about recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers. Although the available information indicates that the vast majority of those patients used black-market cannabis products, the government and the press continue to blame their symptoms on “vaping” and “e-cigarettes” in general, leaving the false impression that legal nicotine products, which have been in wide use for years, pose a potentially deadly threat.

That message is dangerous for three reasons. First, it does not alert consumers to the specific threat posed by black-market THC vapes, so people who otherwise might have avoided them may continue to use them. Second, it drives former smokers who are now vaping back to a much riskier habit. Third, it deters current smokers from switching to an alternative that would dramatically reduce the health risks they face.

In the Morning Consult survey of 2,200 adults, which was conducted last week, 66 percent incorrectly said e-cigarettes are either just as dangerous as or more dangerous than conventional cigarettes. A similar poll conducted in June 2018 found that 52 percent of Americans endorsed that erroneous view. Meanwhile, the share who recognize that vaping nicotine is less dangerous than smoking has fallen from 36 percent to 22 percent. In last week’s poll, 58 percent described “using electronic cigarettes” as “very harmful,” up from 38 percent last year.

Read full article here.

Jacob Sullum – Reason – September 20, 2019.

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