Local Newspaper Corrects Absurd Article Claiming E-Cigs Lead to Hard Drugs
The British local newspaper the Leicester Mercury misquoted Professor Jason Hughes into an idiotic opinion on Tuesday, running with “E-cigarettes could be a gateway to harder drugs, according to a city expert” as an opening line, despite the fact that he said nothing of the sort. You can rest assured that any “expert” making such a comment would have to not only been a complete hack, but also a slobbering, slack-jawed, uninformed lobotomy-survivor. But Professor Hughes actually holds very reasonable opinions on the issue, arguing that the concern about e-cigarettes is largely “social” in nature, that the nicotine limit set to be imposed by the EU will have a negative effect on smokers’ ability to quit through vaping and that, as a technology, they’re merely treated as “guilty by association.”
If it needs clarifying, he in no way believes that vaping leads to shooting up with dirty needles or performing unspeakable acts in exchange for crack money, he really said that the notion of “re-normalizing smoking” or e-cigarettes leading to harder drugs is lacking in evidential basis. Because, of course, it is lacking in evidential basis, since even the supposed “gateway” effect to tobacco smoking also is supported by no reliable evidence whatsoever. In terms of supporting evidence, they might as well have gone with the full-on Reefer Madness-style approach and printed “E-cigarettes will send users criminally insane.”
I can’t even imagine the sheer fury Professor Hughes must have felt bubbling up inside him when he read that first line. Not only had he become an unwilling ANTZ-puppet, a large proportion of readers would have immediately placed him into their mental “untrustworthy lunatics” category.
After a barrage of well-deserved criticism in the comments section, the newspaper admirably corrected the story, with the explanation:
“An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Professor Hughes had himself claimed that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to harder drugs. This is not his view. The updated version of the story makes clear that the point he is making is that governments are likely to use such arguments in order to justify restrictions on the marketing and content of e-cigarettes.”
This is the sort of thing we’d all like to see more of. If you’ve published something painfully idiotic and get abuse for it, put your hands up, admit your mistake and fix the problem. In the end, the article became the sort of thing we should see a lot more of: a rational, (largely) positive story about e-cigs – a topic the news media otherwise appears utterly incapable of tackling without devolving into frothing idiocy.