Some of you would have read the title and said WTF. But I would really like it if we could start a bit of a trend using the correct numbers.

Here are the guts of it vaping is NOT 95% safer according to the Royal College of Physicians. If you actually read what they said the figure is a whole lot different.

Their words

However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco .

This is the original report and where the bad maths has crept in 5% of the harm doesn’t mean 95% safer.

Splitting hairs I hear you say well it is a big a hair to split because if you do the maths 5% of the harm means a whopping up to 2000% safer. While 95% safer is a big number when talking about risk reduction up to 2000% safer is far harder to ignore.

Exploitation of the limited widespread understanding regarding how Percentages are properly calculated:

Percentage = 100 * ( N / Nref ) … [ when N < Nref ]

Percentage = 100 * ( ( N / Nref ) - 1 ) … [ when N > Nref ]

where: N is the number considered; Nref is the reference number

… wanders it’s way into modern discourse (especially within various “promotional” screeds). The game is to quietly “flip the reference designator” in the description in a way where said inversion may remain unnoticed.

Don’t forget to subtract 1 from the quotient before multiplying by 100 (resulting in 1900 %, in your example).

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By the way, I have searched the entire paper (here), and there is not a single mention of “95%” or “ninety-five percent”. When the paper states, “… 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco”, that is an entirely correct representation of their reported data. It seems that somebody else, in reading the paper, has themselves interpreted that the authors have stated “95% safer” - when in fact their published words state no such thing.

In any event, a number equal to 20 times another quantity is equal to a 1900% increase (not “up to 2000%”).

Where does your formula come into play? You don’t say how to apply it.

If smoking does 100 damage points to health and e-cigarettes does 5 damage points to health, smoking is 20 times more damaging, hence the 2000% and not 1900%

Why does a doubling (2 times larger) equal 100% increase (and not a 200% increase) ? By your assertion, it would (if the calculation of percentage did not subtract 1 from the quotient before multiplying by 100, as is detailed in my post above). My statement of the formula above is complete as given. How to apply formula (should be) evident. Let us know when you have single-handedly re-written the rules of mathematics. …

I am afraid that Google is not your friend (this time). It’s tempting to be entertained by your own uninformed gesticulations - but I recognize the (eventual) embarrassment that you will feel. Actually knowing what you are talking about before talking confers numerous benefits. I will be letting you stew away in your own juices.

It’s like the statement from the FDA that 75% of teens are using a JUUL. The real informational piece says that teen vaping has increased 75% over the last year. That would be up from 17% last year or 29%/30% (depending on your rounding preference). Another 5% and they’ll tie with the teen binge drinkers.

Unfortunately, the “95% safer than smoking” mantra has been so widely publicized, if people now start saying vaping is close to 2000% safer, many won’t believe them.