Health officials have found severe dangers of vaping, but it has become increasingly popular among teens and young adults.
Kansas health officials reported that a sixth person in the U.S. has died from lung disease due to vaping. The woman was older than 50 and had a history of health problems, but her condition aggravated due to the use of e-cigarettes.
Moreover, other vaping-related deaths were reported in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon. At the time, the CDC said 215 possible cases had been reported from 25 states, and at least two deaths have been documented.
Therefore, US CDC, FDA, and others started investigating the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths, and have found a possible cause of the onset of health issues.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are working to determine whether specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices or substances are related to these illnesses.
They are assisting state and local health officials and doctors on how to better understand the illnesses and their causes.
All reported cases have been from individuals using e-cigarette products, sometimes containing cannabinoid substances like THC or CBD. New York health officials reported that extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate were found in almost all vaping products containing cannabis that were investigated.
Furthermore, all people who sent a product for testing were discovered to have used at least one product with Vitamin E acetate.
The New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center in Albany tested vape products in their lab and discovered “very high levels” of vitamin E acetate in the samples containing cannabis.
Due to this, vitamin E acetate became the center of the state’s investigation.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state health department to issue subpoenas to three companies that sell thickening agents used in black market vaping products to companies that manufacture vape liquids. Also, he mandated that warning signs must be posted in all vape and smoke shops in New York, and plans to ban e-cigarettes state-wide.
According to his office, the Wadsworth Center analyzed thickening agents from the three companies. And found that “they are nearly pure vitamin E acetate oil.”
During the investigation, the CDC warns the public to stop using e-cigarettes of any kind, but those who continue should monitor themselves for symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, or fever.
The CDC says it is too early to pinpoint a single product or substance common to all cases, and it is unclear what role THC-containing products play in the illness, as many patients report vaping both THC- and nicotine-containing products. Yet, it cautions anyone who uses e-cig products to beware of these symptoms and avoid purchasing these products off the street.
These are the full recommendations for those who vape:
- Do not buy e-cigarette products “off the street.”
- Do not modify e-cigarette products or add anything to them.
- Go to the doctor if you experience symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
- If you are concerned about your health after using an e-cigarette product, call poison control: 1-800-222-1222.
- People with health or other problems linked to tobacco or e-cigarette problems should report them to their online Safety Reporting Portal.
The American Lung Association stated that “e-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and disease.”
President and CEO Harold Wimmer added that e-cigarettes contain harmful toxins like heavy metals, carcinogens, vegetable glycerin, and propylene glycol, all of which can damage the lungs.
Dr. Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association joined these efforts and urged the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market.
They asked the FDA to immediately ban flavors, as well as marketing practices, that improve the appeal of e-cigarette products to youth.
FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo communicated via an emailed statement, claiming they need more information to understand the relationship between specific products or substances and reported illnesses.
She added that the FDA investigates e-cigarettes and other vaping products, and is also taking steps to put a stop to young people vaping.
The statement added that they are aggressively enforcing the law and investing in campaigns to educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarette use, to prevent the epidemic rise.
Their educational efforts were reported to include youth-focused prevention messages on TV, digital platforms, posters in high school bathrooms, and lesson plans developed with Scholastic for educators.
The Trump administration reported that it intends to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse that affects children, families, schools, and communities.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that they will not allow these products to become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.
The FDA is also expected to soon complete a policy demanding new requirements for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol flavors, in an attempt to clear the market of illegal and unauthorized products.
Michigan became the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, and San Francisco was the first city to prohibit e-cig sales.
Regardless of the implications of the CDC investigation, e-cigs have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease, and manufacturers have been scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission, FDA, and the House and Senate over concerns that e-cig advertising targets teens.