This time it is from Alison Stacey, the 'Health Reporter' in the Birmingham Mail.
I always thought that journalists were trained to check their facts and do some research before publishing a story, but some seem to think that they can write about a subject that they know nothing about in the hope that their readers will know even less and not notice.
E-cigs are under a political threat, and there is no shortage of stories about them - the news is being checked, daily, by hundreds of e-cig users and campaigners - so the days of poor reporting on the subject going un-noticed are well and truly over.
The original article appeared HERE on Feb 6th.
It is a fairly typical example of the "E-cig burst into flames and nearly burnt a house down" type of article.
As per usual, it completely fails to mention that the single most common cause of house fire deaths are tobacco cigarettes and therefore even with the occasional accident, e-cigs represent a much less risky option.
Lets have a look at the article itself.
It gets off to a bad start with an error in the opening sentence :
"The dangers of smoking were brought home to a Birmingham grandmother when her e-cigarette exploded ‘like a firework’ in her living room."
Sorry, I thought it was an article about e-cigs - and yet it starts out with the 'dangers of smoking' - electronic cigarette users are not smoking, they do not contain tobacco and they do not emit 'smoke' so with even very basic errors like this from the start then we know that the author is clueless on the subject.
The article explains that the person involved was
"charging the electronic device for the first time when it burst into flames at her house in Weoley Castle."Luckily, nobody was injured - however the article continues in order
"to warn others about the potential dangers of the popular e-cigs."And now we get to the account of what happened as the victim explains :
“I had nipped upstairs as I was tidying up and heard an almighty bang,”
Yes, that's right. She had put the e-cig on charge and then just 'nipped upstairs' and all of a sudden the device burst into flames.
The thing is, a slightly different story is told on the victims own facebook page, where several days earlier she told her friends that the e-cig was charging overnight and it was her husband that came home to discover the fire. No 'nipping' and no 'almighty bang'.
Next, the article goes on to describe the actual electronic cigarette itself, and Alison Stacey provides more evidence that she is out of her depth on e-cigs as she incorrectly calls it a
"Kangertech protank 3 cigarette". The e-cig had been purchased
"from a man in her local pub for £25"
Because Alison Stacey does not understand the subject that she is writing about and appears to have done little, if any, research - she clearly does not realise that the Kanger product was the ONLY component that has not caught fire - the Kanger tank that fits on to the battery appears to be untouched - which indeed it would be because the Kanger component would have to have been disconnected in order for the battery to have been charging up.
To anyone that knows about the subject, the battery is most certainly not a Kanger battery and neither is the charger. In fact, I recognise the charger, it is one of these :
The charger is designed to charge a different type of e-cig battery and has an output voltage of 5.0volts - which means that we might be getting to a, realistic, possible cause of the fire
- a 5.0v charger was used to recharge a 4.2v battery.
In other words the wrong charger was being used.
And this is why the whole story falls apart. You see Alison Stacey seems to have done no basic fact checking before publishing an article on a subject that she clearly knows little about.
She didn't seem to check any aspect of the story.
Instead of trying "to warn others about the potential dangers of the popular e-cigs", she could have done this :
- Advised readers to make sure that they are using the correct charger. Indeed this is the main piece of advice provided by the Fire Service about e-cigs.
- Encouraged readers to initially purchase from a reliable outlet.
- Explained to readers that these incidents are rare and considerably less frequent than fire caused by smoking
- Informed readers that care should be taken with all rechargeable batteries including laptops and mobile phones, which carry the same risks (especially if the wrong charger is used).
This really is another article written by someone that does not seem to understand the subject.
As I said earlier, journalists have gone past the time when they can write about e-cigs without scrutiny. If they don't check their facts then they will be picked up on it.