The recent ITV vape documentary has led to UK vapers and industry advocacy groups fire back at what they see as a totally biased piece of ‘reporting’.
So did it portray vaping in bad light?
In a word yes, and unlike the recent Netflix ‘puff-piece’ documentary, Big Vape Broken, this was most definitely a hit piece.
It stank of hidden agenda and was packed with the sort of scaremongering we’ve come to expect from the world’s media.
Lot’s of innuendo, phrases such as ‘potentially dangerous’ – ‘hidden compounds’ and of course plenty of ‘what about the children? And all given to camera with that ‘concerned reporter’s look’.
More drama than fact and certainly not backed up by any real evidence…
It was tabloid TV using ‘shocking’ footage of young people on life support machines and of course a death in the US ‘possibly’ linked to vaping.
Instinct told me that guy – with a history of drug abuse – and despite apparently testing negative for any drugs – had already damaged his lungs and God knows what other internal organs.
Even the death certificate only suggested ‘possible’ EVALI [ e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury].
Of course my thoughts go out to those affected by EVALI – but we must remind ourselves and indeed ITV – that 99.9999% of cases of the respiratory illness in the US have been found to have been caused by contaminated illegally bought THC cartridges.
To be honest I doubt this ITV vape documentary will affect many, if any established vapers out there – we’ve all seen the bad press before and shrug and move on.
However what is worrying is the impact hit pieces like this will have on smokers.
Lest we forget that is what vaping and e-cigarettes are all about – helping smokers quit.
Sure out of the 3.6million vapers here in the UK, there’s a hardcore bunch that are now classed as hobbyists, however the vast majority are happy to puff on their pod kit and be glad they’re no longer inhaling the umpteen carcinogens found from lit tobacco.
Remember, it’s the combustion that kills – NOT the nicotine.
ITV Vape Documentary – More Anti-Vaping Diatribe
Social media lit up once the documentary aired and given I don’t have a TV – I had no idea that it was scheduled – or why the vape community was up in arms.
I’ve also been out of action with my bloody slipped discs, so had to wait until they eased slightly, so that I could actually watch it online with a clear head – heavy painkillers and vapable natural remedies do cloud my judgement lol.
I finished watching it about 5 minutes ago, and as I’ve said found it biased to the point of ridiculousness, however, and as a former news reporter I can see the angle the producers were after.
Not quite sloppy journalism – more of an agenda…get me being kind to my former profession lol.
Look, most reporters today are merely ‘repeaters’ – told the angle to take and sod the facts…rarely any balanced pieces anymore because bad news still sells…
Our old saying ‘if it bleeds leads’ springs to mind – cold but true.
I forecast this kind of media frenzy in a recent Vape News.
The MHRA has recently updated its guidelines to UK doctors regarding vaping and indeed the EVALI outbreak in the USA.
Not only that, it mentioned the tenuous linking of two deaths here in the UK from ‘possible’ vaping incidents…as I said back then:
Expect to see a few media scare stories around this…
The links are indeed tenuous and as I said above – the media really did latch onto this theme, with a number of newspaper articles and of course this documentary.
I might be more mellow in my old age, or it could be the last of those pills in my system, but after watching it I’m not angry, or indeed up in arms, more disappointed that a major UK TV channel could be quite so one-sided…but regular readers know my thoughts on the mainstream media these days…
Unlike the UK advocacy groups, who as one seem to have really gotten their collective knickers in a twist 😉
…And good for them I hasten to add lol.
UK Vaping Advocacy Groups Fire Back!
The New Nicotine Alliance was particularly scathing about the ITV vape documentary:
Scant, and almost dismissive, attention was given to prominent UK voices such as Public Health England and ASH, while financially conflicted outliers from America were handed prominence without even a cursory examination of their pronouncements.
An MP in the UK, however, was grilled extensively about non-existent conflicts which only proved that the presenters were catastrophically ill-informed about how parliament works.
Jonathan Maitland is a good broadcaster who has produced interesting shows in the past but came across in this programme as a gullible and incompetent researcher dancing to the tune of those above him who played him like a patsy.
Fortunately, social media has been harsh on the show, so whoever it was that decided on the gutter hit-piece that they delivered may hopefully realise they have misjudged the public mood in this country.
And it agrees with my worry the effect the documentary may have on the UK’s smokers – of whom 100,000 per year die from lit tobacco related diseases:
But more important is the fact that public perception of the relative safety of e-cigarettes has been nose-diving for years, precisely because of scientifically ignorant scaremongering such as the ITV broadcast last night.
Public health officials in the UK are exasperated that the positive messages they give are drowned out by chancers out to make a buck on misleading information, click-bait and short-term notoriety.
ITV produced a show that was ignorant, lacked balance and that will harm many people’s lives, not just now but in the future.
They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Professional journalists have long bemoaned the impact on news reporting that bloggers and social media have created.
They criticise those channels for not having standards and lacking in objectivity when scrutinising important issues, yet their programme last night was so lacking in research and basic fact-checking that they have helped the country to realise that broadcast media is on the decline.
They had a chance to prove that responsible investigative journalism wasn’t dead, but instead decided to jump in the coffin and nail it shut themselves with their own partial alarmism.
With their show, Jonathan Maitland and ITV have misled millions of people with the message that they should just carry on smoking, and that public health officials and politicians in this country should be ignored.
The British public deserves better than their shamefully bottom-of-the-barrel partisan propaganda.
Like I said, scathing 🙂
IBVTA says Programme WILL Cause Deaths
Apparently no UK based advocacy group was approached to appear on the programme, though the Independent British Vape Association [IBVTA] did contact the producers before the show aired and were ignored.
In a statement IBVTA said:
The UK leads the world with the most developed and nuanced e-liquid ingredient and manufacturing regulations.
The detailed guidance and reporting systems for the product set were developed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority with the fullest cooperation of the IBVTA.
This means that not only have all IBVTA members committed to meeting production standards, but to knowing what ingredients they are using exactly and in full, carrying out appropriate toxicological risk assessments, producing e-liquids so that contamination cannot occur, and thoroughly testing the end product to ensure it meets that intended quality standard.
To compare this with e-liquid made and sold in some other countries, or with those sold on the black market in any country, is simply not appropriate.
The IBVTA applauds the efforts of both Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and Professor Newton of PHE, to present balance within the programme.
However it was clear that the producers set out to demonise both the UK’s most successful quit aid in the history of smoking, and the consumer led insurgency that has made the UK a world leader in reducing smoking rates.
And most dammingly added:
There is absolutely no doubt that irresponsible reporting of this nature will result in vapers going back to smoking, and that means this television programme will be the direct cause of unnecessary premature death.
Unsurprisingly, the IBVTA believes this to be unacceptable.
UKVIA Says Documentary Falls Well Short Of Accuracy
The reporter, Jonathan Maitland, is also a playwright, and that I’m afraid showed in the drama aspect of How Safe Is Your Vape.
Vaping as we know, is used to drama and drama lamas, but as a national broadcaster, ITV took ‘vape drama’ to a whole new level, something not lost on the UK Vaping Industry Association [UKVIA].
It picked up on Maitland’s attempt by the tobacco and vape industry’s to influence the UK Science and Technology Committee – an all Parliamentary group that has been investigation vaping for a number of years.
A spin off group – for want of a better phrase – from that committee is the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping.
That group is a huge supporter of vaping, but chairman Mark Pawsey MP was pushed as to how it could be funded by the tobacco and vaping industry – or in this case the secretariat behind the committee.
UKVIA was only to happy to answer and were again ignored by the producers when asked to appear on the show for balance:
The UKVIA acts as secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping, as part of our remit to champion the transformative harm-reduction potential of our industry.
All details related to our work are published and a matter of public, in-keeping with our commitment to transparency.
The UKVIA represents the entire vaping industry, from manufacture, to retail, to supply chain.
A full list of our membership is always available online at UKVIA.
The net impact of Maitland’s programme will be to keep people smoking cigarettes, which results in more than 200 deaths every day in the UK.
When dealing with issues of public health and harm reduction, the bar for accuracy must be set particularly high.
It is the opinion of the UKVIA that ITV’s programming fell well short in this regard.
You have to agree, every single hyped anti-vape article or programme such as this means more people will die from smoking – it’s that simple.
Final Thoughts On the ITV Vape Documentary
How safe is your vape?
Very safe – to put it simply – but only when bought from reputable sources, and especially here in the UK where rigorous standards and regulations are in place.
This kind of programme reminds me of a slow news day on a local paper when you used to to send an underage kid into a few shops to buy booze or fags.
Yup we’ve done that more than once – and trust me it ramped up the readers response – early click bait but in newsprint.
There’s nothing new with underage kids buying stuff illegally and in this case of course the vendors should be reprimanded and definitely be asked to implement Challenge 25 or something similar.
The contents of e-liquid is another tired argument – as are the flavours – it’s the first time I’ve heard of rocket fuel being found in a juice but given it was a compound way way below unacceptable levels and has been passed as safe by the MHRA – then so what?
Sure the arguments made in the ITV vape documentary were one sided, damming to vaping, and yes ITV should be ashamed of itself, and I’m glad to see the vaping community responding to real vape drama and not that silly YouTube reviewer infighting nonsense.
This will be yesterday’s news pretty quickly, however the real concern is for those vapers returning to smoking, and smokers refusing to make the life saving switch.
The bottom line is – vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, and nicotine whilst addictive, is no more harmful to health – when used correctly – than the caffeine in that coffee society deems ‘rocket fuel‘ to get them through the day.
ITV – now forever known as Idiots Trashing Vaping – are just another media outlet that may – more likely will – have blood on its hands.
Shame on them.
PS: just gonna name drop here – the show’s presenter Julie Etchingham – back in her local BBC TV reporter days – once gave me a huge hug after briefing her on a news story I was working on – been a ‘fan’ ever since lol.
So if she – Mr Maitland or more importantly, the producers of the show, wants to reach out for info on vaping…I can point them to a whole host of UK vaping advocacy groups eager to help – but I won’t hold my breath 😉