The first death directly linked to vaping occurred in Illinois. Over the course of this summer the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 193 people were hospitalized with lung illness linked to vaping. Doctors have been astounded by the level of lung damage that they have seen in the patients.
Not only is the lung damage severe, but it is occurring in young people. In Illinois, the 22 people hospitalized for lung damage are between the ages of 17 and 38.
Teen Use is at an Epidemic Level
Recently the FDA Commissioner described teenage vaping approaching epidemic levels. Recent studies show a 75% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018.
Teachers and parents
A Safer Alternative – Maybe More Like an Introduction
One of the main marketing campaigns of e-cigarettes is that they are a safe alternative to traditional nicotine products. However research shows that youth who use e-cigarette products are four times more likely to start smoking traditional tobacco products. It turns out that using vaping products is a soft introduction to tobacco products. Vaping can normalize smoking behavior. This same phenomenon occurs with loot boxes in video games which normalize gambling.
How Bad is this Health Crisis?
Doctors are still trying to get a handle on what is happening with these young patients going to the emergency room with such severe lung damage. The main concern with vaping is that users are filling their lungs with foreign agents. Since vaping is relatively new we have very little information on the long-term impact of it. There are significant concerns regarding the inhalation of heavy metal products from the heating coils. Additionally some users are adding liquid THC and CBD to their vapes. There is a complete lack of research on the long-term impact of using vapes for marijuana consumption.
Lack of Regulation
While e-cigarettes have been around for a decade, they were not classified as medical devices or drugs. This limited the FDA’s regulatory powers over it. The lack of oversight allowed the e-cigarette industry to rapidly grow with very few regulations. With no clear regulatory body to provide oversight there are limited safety standards. The recent concerns of e-cigarettes have only surfaced because doctors started reporting adverse events to the medical state board.
What to do
The dramatic increases in reported adverse medical events over this summer have brought concerns regarding the safety of e-cigarettes to the surface. Due to a lack of research we do not know how safe or unsafe e-cigarettes are. The severity of the reported medical conditions is very troubling. While 193 cases (including 1 death) have been reported, the lack of a clear reporting mechanism for these events indicates that the true number of medical conditions is probably low. It is imperative that e-cigarette use in teens and young adults be limited. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us here at NJFAI. We are happy to provide assistance.