Richard Crosby 28 June 2023


I recently read an article on the BBC news website – ‘Vaping: E-cigarettes have ruined my life, woman says’ ( – which featured on the front page for several days. Given the ridiculous article title I’m not surprised – looks like the BBC has been taking tips from the tabloid press.

The article details the story of a 19-year-old girl who started using vape products aged 16. This has apparently ‘ruined’ her life. Oh, she also now smokes cigarettes too… however it’s mentioned only in passing, I personally question this claim given how much people like to push the idea vaping is a gateway to combustible cigarettes.

Now no one can question whether she shouldn’t have been sold nicotine products under the age of 18 – but the issue here certainly isn’t a legislative one – it’s about enforcement. Selling vape products to under 18’s is illegal – and undoubtedly more should be done to crack down on this practice.

, Scare stories: causing more harm than good, The Daily Pouch

But let’s go back to the main point of the story – a teenager used a product they aren’t legally allowed to, became dependent on said product and is now struggling to quit. This happened for decades – my generation included – the difference being we were smoking combustible cigarettes at 14 and quickly hooked, (I must add my life certainly wasn’t ‘ruined’). The difference being cigarettes cause far more harm and ultimately this individual in the passed would have been picking up cigarettes instead which would have been far worse.

There’s nothing new at all in this story – the only effect has to whip up more fear around a product that has saved the lives of countless people who have been able to switch to a less harmful nicotine alternative.

Unsubstantiated, fear-mongering stories that take one example of elicit usage simply continue to drive a narrative that is harmful to the generation of smokers who came before – simply seeking a less harmful alternative.

Nicotine products shouldn’t be available to minors – and for the most part – in law, they are not. This BBC article doesn’t do anything but highlights a lack of enforcement of laws that already exist.

By pushing more anecdotal stories based on a grand sample size of one – the BBC and outlets like it continues to hamper the efforts of people pushing for sensible debate – and most importantly – the lives of the smoking population.