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E-Cigarettes: Media Bury the Lede, We Get to Bury the Bodies

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"Walmart Inc. will stop selling e-cigarettes in its U.S. locations as the country grapples with a string of vaping-related deaths," Bloomberg reports.

CNN: "Walmart said Friday [September 20] it will stop selling e-cigarettes as the number of deaths tied to vaping grows."

Associated Press: "Walmart said Friday that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam's Clubs following a string of mysterious illnesses and deaths related to vaping."

Nearly every national headline on the story emphasizes "vaping-related" illnesses and deaths. Nearly every first paragraph associates Walmart's decision with those illnesses and deaths.

"Burying the lede" is the journalistic malpractice of failing to mention the most important facts of a story in the first ("lead" or "lede") paragraph. That's what's going on here.

One has to go to the second paragraph of most major media accounts, if not further, to learn Walmart's real reason for its decision. Per AP:

"The move is due to 'growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity' regarding vaping products, the company said in a statement."

And one can read most of the stories in their entirety without coming across a couple of other important facts.

Fact #1: So far, wherever a specific "vaping" product has been linked to these "vaping-related" illnesses, that product has been a black market "street vape." That is, a product you can't buy at Walmart, or at your local convenience store, or on the web sites of any of the reputable -- and government-regulated -- makers of e-cigarettes.

Fact #2: While questions remain as to the long-term safety of the relatively new practice of "vaping," so far every credible study on the practice says it's safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Walmart isn't abandoning e-cigarette sales because vaping is unsafe.

Walmart is abandoning e-cigarette sales because it doesn't want to be left with a bunch of expensive inventory it can't sell as local, state, and federal governments issue new regulations on e-cigarette products, up to and including complete bans.

American regulators and politicians are hopping on the bandwagon of a baseless moral panic, created by so-called "public health" advocates and promoted by the mainstream media.

The regulations and bans those regulators and politicians are proposing will increase, not decrease, the illnesses and deaths associated with "street vapes."

People who want to procure and use nicotine (or cannabis) aren't going to request permission from regulators or politicians and take no for an answer. They're just going to go get the stuff.

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Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


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3 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments


John Jonik

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Weird, interesting stuff going re/ vaping.

The mainstream is actually mentioning the added ingredients of vape things.

That is/was NEVER done in the "tobacco" "smoking" brouhaha where hundreds of tobacco pesticides and residues are not mentioned, nor are the thousand or so untested/unlabeled additives, or the fake tobacco, or the added burn accelerants, or the PO-210 radiation from legal-as-pie phosphate fertilizers OR the dioxin coming to uninformed but popularly-hated "smokers" via totally legal chlorine-bleached cig paper.

Submitted on Saturday, Sep 21, 2019 at 5:23:43 AM

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John Jonik

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Submitted on Saturday, Sep 21, 2019 at 5:25:43 AM

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nelswight

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John, I love reading/seeing your comments.

Submitted on Saturday, Sep 21, 2019 at 3:02:06 PM

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nelswight

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Ah, now, such a derogatory smear of MSM Truth and Honorable Tabac!

Submitted on Saturday, Sep 21, 2019 at 3:05:19 PM

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Thomas Knapp

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Big Tobacco certainly tried to sabotage the vape market before it substantially took over the vape market. This looks more like their attempts took on a life of their own and grew beyond their control.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019 at 6:39:15 PM

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