CNN Reports on Vaping. Claims Abuse: Sociologically Reflecting

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By Anthony J. Ottomanelli II

As the summer ended, CNN released a report that I thought was a bit misguided. The article reported that “South Florida emergency rooms are filling up with patients suffering from synthetic narcotics overdose.” That is alarming; perhaps the production and distribution of synthetic narcotics are the primary issues to investigate. But another plan outlined in the article was ultimately an excuse for the writers to highlight, or more accurately, attack.

The article also said that “vaporizer pens are becoming the new way to get high, but discreetly—at times, right under the noses of police, parents and teachers.” So, vape pens are behind these overdoses? I think the reason for the overdoses is the fact that people are abusing synthetic narcotics. Just because vape pens are linked as the “delivery device” for these synthetic drugs does not necessarily mean that we should automatically single out vaping.

It’s important to dissect and analyze the issues in this article from a sociological standpoint. The title is not only inaccurate, but perhaps outlandish and insulting to the vape community. A more appropriate title would be, “Vaping: the latest miracle in harm reduction,” as stated previously.

I respect these CNN reporters. However, journalists, researchers, writers and many others of the same crowd should be much more responsible when serving as reliable communicators to the public.

If you write professionally, you should be aware that words are meaningful and powerful. Why discourage people from vaping? Vaping has potential, and should be recognized as one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in regard to public health reform and as an effective harm reduction strategy.

A U.K. study conducted by Public Health England, an agency sponsored by the U.K.’s Department for Health, found that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than regular cigarettes. “Public Health England, an agency sponsored by the UK’s Department for Health, has concluded that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than traditional smokes.” This is an excerpt from just one of many articles about this UK study. It’s no secret that smoking kills nearly half a million Americans annually.

As a social scientist, I admit that there are few facts that are accurately communicated about vaping. Of one thing I am certain, however. I smoked for 15 long years, and I gave vaping a chance. Now, I’ll never smoke again as long as vaping is around. The difference in my overall health and well-being is more positive since I quit smoking and started vaping. I’m no longer a slave to tobacco—just a fool for nicotine.

There are some truths in this CNN article, though. For instance, it reports that “vape pens have been around for more than a decade, but have boomed in popularity recently because of marketing to nicotine users looking for a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.” Vaping is becoming a new, contemporary culture, and some people just don’t understand it.

When you think about it, anything that ever gains in popularity usually receives a decent amount of pushback from its opposition. The article’s writers even suggest that vaping is “trending,” and that this is the scariest part. Do they claim that the fact that vaping is finally gaining in popularity is the spookiest factor in this whole equation? Once again, I think they’re mistaken and misguided.

As a researcher and vaper, I urge you to aggressively, yet tactfully, question such accusations and interact with people who hold different opinions. It’s important for people to fully understand and relate to the emotions of others. Thus, the decrease of socializing among one another can simultaneously diminish our capacity to empathize.

To simplify, a human being is a social animal. Meaning, human beings feel naturally compelled to relate to another individual or group of people. Vaping brings people together, and has become its own subculture. We do ourselves a disservice by focusing our energy on criticizing and analyzing the wrong kinds of progressive advancements, and transforming them into issues.

Stephen Hawking once was quoted as saying, “Above all, we must never stop talking.” Communication is vital, and as a fellow vaper, I urge the interchangeable vaping community to keep talking. Unite, ask questions and inform.

Tony Ottomanelli graduated with a Master of Arts in sociology from DePaul University. Ottomanelli also taught sociology at Owens Community College. He lives in Denver, Colo., where he pursues opportunities in sociology, writing and, of course, vaping, testing new vaping devices and e-liquids. Because the staff focuses on educating customers, Vaporleaf off Colfax in Denver is his favorite go-to shop.

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