The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the now 127 reported cases of lung damage linked to e-cigarette usage.
What We Know:
- 127 individuals in 15 states have developed illnesses with lung damage and difficulty breathing. While doctors and authorities have yet to state a cause, use of vaping products containing nicotine or THC is the only known link between the patients. NBC reported that 22 of the individuals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois have been hospitalized, though doctors cannot identify what in the vaping devices are causing the illness or if its the devices at all.
- While most cases are originating in the Midwest, California, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia have all seen cases of this lung failure linked to vaping; there are also 34 additional cases under investigation and potential cases in many more states. Though some patients have found themselves in the intensive care unit (ICU) in severe condition, no patients have been reported dead.
- CDC released a statement August 17 detailing their investigation and asking clinicians to report cases they suspect are similar. The investigation will largely focus on identifying a contaminant in the devices or liquids consumed through e-cigarettes. CDC is working with local health departments in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota to conduct laboratory research and facilitating interstate data sharing. Though the CDC has not released official information about the investigation, President of the American Vaping Association Gregory Conley believes the culprit is unregulated products. “The evidence continues to point to street-bought vaping cartridges containing THC or synthetic drugs as being the cause of the illnesses,” Conley said.
- Vaping has long sparked public fear and controversy; Just this year a story of a boy whose vape exploded in his mouth causing severe injuries caught national attention as vaping rapidly increases in popularity amongst teenagers. Most concerningly, studies show that the use of e-cigarettes increases the likelihood of smoking cigarettes among young people, and teenagers don’t seem to know what they are smoking. A study in 2015 revealed 36 percent of adult smokers thought e-cigarettes were less harmful than cigarettes and the majority of teenagers don’t know what is in their vape.
National concern about vaping lies mostly in the opacity of large companies and low regulation of the market.