What We Know About Vaping-Related Lung Disease In The US

According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 2,000 cases of serious lung problems related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping affecting the United States in the past year.

The nation’s health protection agency, which focuses national attention on developing and applying disease control and prevention has updated the data, including listing confirmed deaths, reporting that fatalities have risen to 39 in the past months. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarettesor vapingproducts. Vitamin E acetate has been identified as a chemical of concern among people who smoke e-cigarettes and THC has been present in most of the samples tested by the FDA to date. Additionally, most patients who become sick have reported a history of using products containing THC.

Vaping’s Rapid Rise

The new trend of electronic cigaretteswhich first arose as an alternative to tobaccohas become difficult for health authorities to manage and control, both because of the healthy message it initially conveyed, and because of the countless brands that have entered the market. If smoking electronic cigarettes was a habit of only a few in 2011, in recent years consumers have increased substantially, from an initial seven million to an estimated 41 million in 2018. The vaping business is most profitable in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

Trying To Understand The Vaping Health Crisis

In the US experts are trying to clarify the illnesses that are occurring and trying to tread a fine line between hasty conclusions and false alarmism or being insufficiently diligent. According to the American Lung Association vaping is still harmful to one’s health, but according to some doctors, vaping is less harmful than “traditional” smoking. “There’s almost no doubt that they [e-cigarettes] expose you to fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes,” reads the John Hopkins Medicine website, among the nation’s top medical schools.

What frightens officials in particular, however, is the young age of consumers of electronic cigarettes. Most are under 35-years-old and 16 percent of vapers are under 18. Although it is not yet clear what is triggering the vaping sickness epidemic, what is certain is that most hospitalized patients have used illegal e-liquids containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. It is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, and the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

Symptoms Of The Vaping Illness

As for the symptoms, most probably caused by the liquids added in the e-cigarettes, patients have reported difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, and other signs of acute respiratory distress. CDC that shows that more than 5,700 young people start vaping every day, partly because it is considered trendy and because of disinformation, but also because of youth-targeted marketing.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes,” reads the tempting message from Juul, the electronic cigarette that has revolutionized the American market, becoming part of the vocabulary for those who vape.

How Juul Was Born

Compact, USB rechargeable, and emanating little smoke: these are the main characteristics of the “iPhone of E-cigs“, the portable e-cigarette designed by ​​two former cigarette smokers and graduated students at Stanford University. The popularity among teenagers of the San Francisco company, led Juul to close social media profiles for one year, after have been accused by the FDA, (the US Food and Drug Administration) of negatively influencing the market, especially among minors. Advertisements listing them as the “alternative for adult smokers” can be read on Juul packs. The style is reminiscent of those of Marlboro cigarettes, both for the colors and the content, attracting an increasingly younger targeted crowd.

The Future Of Vaping In America

It is still unclear what the future of electronic cigarettes in the United States will look like. Even as Silicon Valley’s revolutionary version cigarettes, it will be difficult to continue to attract more and more customers with news spreading about the serious illnesses that can occur. Even more impactful, the White House has taken measures to stop the outbreak by limiting flavors and varieties of e-cigarette tobacco that are available.

Already in early August, the American administration responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the control and supervision of food safety and tobacco products had withdrawn 44 liquids from 4 companies from the market, because of their failing to comply with required authorization standards. Currently in Michigan and the cities of San Francisco, California, and Boulder, Colorado, flavored electronic cigarettes are not sold. 

Wal-Mart’s Anti-Vaping Decision

A decision made by the American multinational giant Walmartthe largest US retailerwas even stricter. In September 2019, Walmart made the announcement that it would cease the sale of all e-cigarettes due to “regulatory complexity and uncertainty” over the products. Earlier in 2019, they also stopped selling fruit-flavored e-cigarette and raised the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of products containing tobacco.

Results Of The Vaping Illness Outbreak

In addition to the personal suffering and tragic death that has occurred, the vaping illness epidemic has increased fear that the US tobacco industry will make a big comeback. What should be clear by now in any case is that there is no safe tobacco product, and e-cigarettes can carry a serious risk. Numerous nonprofit organizations and anti-smoking groups such as Truth Initiative have also started campaigns against vaping. The organization, which based in Washington D.C., kicked off the first-of-its-kind program to help young people quit vaping: the innovative and free text message program was created to give teens and young adults appropriate recommendations about quitting, with input from young adults who have attempted to, or successfully, quit e-cigarettes. It’s a breath of fresh air, and a good step in the right direction.