E-Cigarettes and the media – the highs and lows of getting the evidence into the news

Time: 11:55 - 12:10

Date: Thursday 3rd December

For a science press officer in the UK, there was no more boring subject in recent decades than smoking – until around 2013 when e-cigarettes began to take centre stage.  Governments and health bodies were divided, and a subject which had enjoyed almost universal consensus became suddenly controversial.  The UK government signalled their backing to e-cigarettes as a quitting aid and vape shops sprang up on every high street.  Journalists were interested again.  But media coverage has been mixed; editors are always attracted to a juicy scare story and some journalists remain deeply suspicious of the legacy of this new(ish) technology.  How should the scientific community communicate such a divisive and emotive subject to the public?  What does ‘good’ coverage look like when apparently even researchers can’t agree?  And what can scientists do to ensure e-cigarettes are reported responsibly and accurately?  Tom Sheldon leads the work on e-cigarettes at the Science Media Centre and he will talk about his experience working with scientists and journalists on this battleground subject.

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  • Tom Sheldon Senior Press Manager - Science Media Centre

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