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A doctor looking at an xray of a pair of lungs,, one healthy lung one unhealthy


UK Media Mislead Public Claiming Vaping Causes Popcorn Lung

By Patrick Griffin 24th October 2022 4 Mins


A blitz of erroneous and misleading UK news stories have branded vaping a public health menace…but how much truth is there to the wild and panic-fuelled rumours?

Make no mistake, vaping is under attack in the UK and it looks like it’s only going to get worse…much worse.

Vaping has always received a bad press in mainstream media and it’s commonplace to see a steady trickle of scare stories, bad science and a callous disregard for the truth.

But now that trickle has become a torrent and the UK is beginning to see the same kind of anti-vaping hysteria that has plagued the US for years.

In recent weeks the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Guardian, LADbible and others, have all reported on the horrors of ‘popcorn lung’ – a killer disease wrongly linked to vaping.

The Daily Mail’s headline screamed: “Expert warns that up to 95 percent of people who develop severe ‘popcorn lung’ as a result of vaping will DIE within five years of developing the disease.”

A week later, it returned to the same theme with this even scarier headline: “Primary school students are now VAPING at school as experts sound the alarm about ‘horrific’ popcorn lung that kills up to 95 per cent of sufferers.”

Terrifying stuff indeed and, if true, would surely cast serious doubt on whether vaping is a viable alternative to smoking.

At the very least it would make smokers think again when it came to switching…and there is evidence that this is already happening.

Recommended: Experts Expose False Claims That Vaping Causes Oral Damage & Cancer

What is popcorn lung?

Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) is a rare disease which leads to a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs and obstructs airflow.

It was named when popcorn factory workers became ill after breathing in chemicals including diacetyl, which gives the snack its buttery flavour.

Dose vaping cause popcorn lung?

The UK has banned diacetyl for flavouring e-liquids and therefore it’s not found in any commercially-manufactured product on the market.

Cancer Research UK says e-cigarettes do not cause the condition, highlighting that there have been ‘no confirmed cases of popcorn lung reported in people who use e-cigarettes’.

The UK Health Security Agency said: “Diacetyl had been detected in some e-liquid flavourings in the past, but at levels hundreds of times lower than in cigarette smoke.

“Even at these levels, smoking is not a major risk factor for this rare disease.”

But while the scientific evidence says diacetyl will not cause ‘popcorn lung’ in vapers, the Daily Mail chose to run a sensationalist story which said the opposite.

It wrote: “While some may see vape and e-cigarette devices as safe alternatives to cigarettes, experts warn that users can develop the devastating condition ‘popcorn lung’ – and that those who suffer the most severe case are unlikely to survive.”

Charles A. Gardner, Executive Director of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations (INNCO) said:

“The UK public should understand they’re being had; the flood of negative reporting – including attempts to revive the long-debunked ‘popcorn lung’ lie – is troubling.

“And it is a lie, there’s no other way to describe it, it is a highly effective prohibitionist meme and not even remotely true.

“The scary thing is that they know it’s a lie and still push it.”

Gardner added:

“What’s going on in the UK press now looks very similar to what has been happening in the United States for many years now.”

Hundreds have now taken to social media to offer their thoughts on the ‘popcorn lung’ rumours. Here’s what just a few had to say…

Looking for more myth-busting facts?

Take a look through some of our other news articles to learn more about vaping and the vape industry. Or have a read of our article on 10 Myths About Vaping.

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About this author

Patrick Griffin