A major health crisis relating to e-cigarettes and vaping has errupted in the United States of America with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealing on Thursday that 12 Americans have died while 805 are sick from vaping-related illnesses.
The CDC had said on Wednesday that it is investigating some 1,000 possible cases of severe pneumonia-like illness traced to e-cigarette use. Three deaths were confirmed on Thursday in Florida, Georgia and Mississipi, bringing the number of states where vaping-related deaths have occured to 10.
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). An e-cigarette is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioral aspects of smoking. The use of e-cigarette is known as vaping. Instead of cigarette smoke, the user inhales vapour from a liquid containing nicotine extracted from tobacco, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances and additives.
Vaping became with the popularity of e-cigarettes which were introduced to replace tobbaco cigarettes for smokers trying to cut down or smoking or switch to safer alternatives. Even though vaping is considered less harmful than traditional smoking, there are concerns that the cases of lung injuries spreading like wildfire are related to THC, one of the substances in the vapour inhaled.
According to the CDC, “all patients have a reported history of e-cigarette product use, and no consistent evidence of an infectious cause has been discovered. Therefore, the suspected cause is a chemical exposure. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.”
Authorities are now racing to stop the deaths and teen addiction to e-cigarettes. The moves range from temporary and outright bans as well as stiffer regulations on marketing of cigarettes.
President Donald Trump has disclosed plans to ban most flavored vaping products, saying he was concerned they were hooking children who had never previously smoked tobacco. Wh Massachusetts announced a four-month ban on vaping products this week.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Ned Sharpless, testifying before Congress on Wednesday, said that the FDA will not ‘ban’ flavored e-cigarette but will soon finalize rules to force companies to take the products off the market until they get FDA’s pre-market approval.
“But to be clear, if we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused illness and death for personal profit, we would consider that to be a criminal act,” he added
Police and health officials in Minnesota, in a major bust this week, seized some 77,000 illegal vape cartridges that contained THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – a haul worth an estimated $3.8 million.
CDC figures show that one in four high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past month, so, Sharpless said the FDC’s next enforcement move will be to stem the so-called ‘teen vaping epidemic.’
The most popular flavors among under age users are fruity, mint and menthol ones, and companies like Juul Labs are facing investigations into whether their sweet flavored vapes were intentionally marketed to children and teens.