The Truth You Have Been Denied,
Exposing Misinformation and Revealing the Facts
Dear Australian Media Organisations,
I would like to address the deluge of misinformation being published by the Australian media in recent weeks regarding the outbreak of lung disease across the United States, which has been falsely associated with the vaping of flavoured e-liquids.
In the interests of transparency and openness and to abrogate potential claims of conflict on my part, I pre-empt the following statement by declaring I am involved in the vaping industry. Notwithstanding, as I am sure any reasonable person will see having read my statement, its intent is not for the purpose of promoting vaping, but to highlight the shameful and wilful misrepresentation of the facts by those we should be able to rely upon to present the full truth and not the contrived nonsense that has been reported over the last several weeks across numerous media platforms.
The Australian media, in particular 7 News’ unsubstantiated, nonsensical recitation of carefully selected quotes and statistics ensuring their biased narrative that e-cigarettes are dangerous is, in its entirety, the most blatant example of confirmation bias I have ever witnessed from a ‘professional’ news body.
One can only surmise the personal beliefs of the editors and journalists, or misguided decisions to only present misinformation promoted by relevant corporate influencers and the current stance of the Australian Government, or simply the old adage that bad news sells, are the catalysts for this false reporting. 7 News, along with other news bodies to a lesser extent, have abandoned their journalistic integrity by their blatant disregard of the Journalist Code of Ethics.
‘Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.’
No reasonable person would find the above opening statement from the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics ambiguous in any way, so why would 7 News choose to treat their reporting on vaping and e-cigarettes with such flagrant contempt of the principles of the Code of Ethics.
This is all the more concerning when within days of the first reports being published, which blamed vaping for the outbreak of lung disease and deaths within the United States and lead to the worldwide media frenzy, that we witnessed the ‘actual’ facts emerging. Information substantiated by referenced doctors, scientists, law enforcement agencies and numerous government health agencies, confirmed a link between illegal, black market THC vape ‘cartridges’ and the slew of hospital admissions and deaths throughout the Mid-West of the United States. Further information relating to an investigation into the source of this outbreak resulted the arrest of two brothers in Wisconsin, with a raid on their homes resulting in the seizure of 31,200 illegal THC cartridges, 1,616 ounces (~45.8kg) of extracted THC liquid, large volumes of cash, firearms and unprocessed marijuana, and uncovered a significant manufacturing and distribution syndicate capable of producing 3000-5000 THC vape cartridges per day.
Further investigation by federal and state agencies involving testing of a large number of THC cartridges obtained from patients affected by the outbreak, tested positive for Vitamin E Acetate, also known as Tocopherol Acetate, a thickening agent recently adopted by legal and illegal producers in the THC extraction industry. Evidence suggests Tocopherol Acetate began being added to the THC solution to increase its thickness thus allowing manufacturers to dilute their product, and therefore increase profits, without a noticeable decrease in viscosity, as a high viscosity is used as an indicator in determining the potency and quality of the THC solution. So far, all 21 cases of hospitalisation in California originally associated with vaping, along with 24 out of 27 cases in Wisconsin, have been confirmed to be associated with the use of THC cartridges. Significantly, nicotine which has played the role of patsy throughout this entire journalistic debacle, was not detected during this testing.
Despite the presence of Tocopherol Acetate within these THC cartridges being publicly known for over two weeks, 7 News and other media entities continue their rhetoric that vaping as a whole is responsible for this lung disease. The widely available facts are Tocopherol Acetate is an oil, somewhat akin to grease, hence its usage as a thickening agent and its molecular structure means it has a far higher vaporisation point than traditional e-cigarette ingredients. It must be heated well above the boiling point of water in order to vaporise. Furthermore, once the vaporised Tocopherol Acetate begins to cool, it returns to its original state, leaving what is essentially of a coat of grease on the inside of your lungs, undoubtedly reducing lung function and resulting in breathing difficulties.
Regardless of the compelling evidence brought forward over the past two weeks showing the use of illegal THC cartridges were behind the recent epidemic, one must surely consider some of the glaring inconsistencies within the initial, prematurely drawn conclusion that ‘flavoured’ e- cigarettes were to be held responsible. With vaping and e-cigarettes now a worldwide phenomenon, used heavily throughout the vast majority of Europe, Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom, why would this epidemic be limited to the United States, with reported cases emanating from a epicentre in the mid-western states of Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota? Why are we not seeing similar epidemics in Europe, the United Kingdom, or even Australia, which all contain comparable numbers of e-cigarette users per capita as the USA?
Furthermore, 2011 is widely considered to be the year that vaping achieved widespread adoption throughout the world, and flavoured e-liquids have been readily available since, so why now? If flavoured e-liquids were responsible for the lung disease and hospitalisations we are now witnessing, there undoubtedly would have been reported cases prior to the current epidemic, and these cases would have undoubtedly grown exponentially over the past 9 years, with reports suggesting regular e- cigarette users have grown from 5 million in 2011 to an estimated 45 million in 2019. Surely the complete absence of reported cases from outside the USA, and the reports over the last 4-5 weeks, is strongly indicative that a localised issue is responsible for the outbreak, rather than a inherent health safety flaw within the devices and e-liquid itself.
While the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics is not a legally binding regulatory authority, it is nevertheless a creed all ‘reputable’ journalists claim to adhere to, in addition to the often used catch-cry ‘the public deserve to know the truth’ in defending their often unscrupulous methods of reporting is well recorded. So why then has 7 News completely disregarded and chosen not to report the verified information and facts above regarding this serious matter, and continued to report misinformation?
In direct contradiction of these edicts, it would appear 7 News has decided to distort the truth by suppressing relevant, publicly available facts and, in doing so, patently mislead the general public. Could this simply be a case of journalistic incompetence and laziness or, as I suspect, something far more sinister in the form of big-brother influences based on falsehoods, for the protection of corporate dollars? Regardless of the reasoning, I challenge 7 News to uphold the most intrinsic value of professional journalism and report all of the facts by retracting the sensationalised misinformation you have published thus far and present unbiased, relevant and current information moving forward.
I sincerely hope you, along with the various other news agencies within Australia, reflect on the code of ethics you are trusted to uphold by the Australian public.
Legalise Vaping – Australia
10 News First
WIN News Bendigo
Radio Station 1080 6IX
Greg Hunt MP
A Current Affair
60 Minutes Australia
Australian Medical Association
Australian Government Department of Health
All Dave Vapes