Stillman and Friedland have reviewed the most recent information available on vaping deaths and illnesses (Vaping refers to the use of e-cigarettes). Currently, seven deaths and 380 “confirmed or probable” cases of vaping-related illness have been reported in the U.S. The number of injuries was in fact reduced after the CDC evaluated all reported cases.
Putting This In Perspective
First, we want to put this in perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 16 million Americans today are living with smoking-related illnesses and over 480,000 Americans die each year from smoking. It is clear that injury rates for e-cigarettes are much lower than for regular smoking, but every death related to vaping is a tragedy, and anyone who suffers from a vaping-related lung injury should receive fair compensation.
The CDC has issued a set of pointers given the outbreak of deaths and injuries; we will summarize their advice:
- If you can, cease using e-cigarettes, but
- Don’t return to regular cigarettes because you are concerned about vaping
- If you are using e-cigarettes and have any breathing issues, see a doctor without delay
- Teens and pregnant women should avoid the use of regular and e-cigarettes
The CDC has yet to pinpoint a single cause for the vaping-related deaths and injuries, however, most cases involved the use of e-cigarettes that contained THC or other cannabinoids. The CDC advises against buying these products “off the street,” or improvising additives to manufactured products. Other additives such as formaldehyde are proven health risks.
An Additional Caution
We would like to add an additional caution: In some cases, e-cigarettes have exploded, causing fire and injury when the electronics failed.
If you or a loved one suspects that you have sustained a lung illness due to vaping, see your doctor and document your use of vaping products. Retain packaging and seller information for reporting purposes. Unused products can be used to try to pinpoint the ingredient which may have caused the illness. It appears that in some New York state cases buildup of an oily substance (vitamin E acetate) in THC products may have caused lung issues.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Here are the warning signs and symptoms again from the CDC:
- Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain)
- Some have also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) or non-specific constitutional symptoms (fatigue, fever, or weight loss).
- Symptoms typically develop over a period of days but sometimes can manifest over several weeks. Gastrointestinal symptoms sometimes preceded respiratory symptoms.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Because the symptoms from the vaping injuries often look like an infection, some patients are first given antibiotics, but many don’t improve with the drugs.
This is why, if you choose to continue your use of e-cigarettes, you should document your use of these products to avoid being misdiagnosed. Cessation of use of any THC vaping products and steroid treatment usually treats the symptoms successfully. However, those with pre-existing issues may be more susceptible to severe problems.
The topic of e-cigarettes is controversial and the information available is often contradictory. Large industry sees a lot of potential for economic development. One industry executive sees e-cigarettes as a safer product that will replace regular cigarettes. Others see candy-flavored e-cigarettes as gateway products that target kids. For some smokers, vaping is a way to quit smoking and gain back lung function. As the current outbreak of vaping-related problems shows, this was clearly a hope and not a certainty.
Discussing Vaping With Your Pre-Teens and Teens
If you would like to discuss these issues with your pre-teens and teens, here is a video you may want to see:
We feel that vaping may be of use for those who wish to quit smoking. We also like the good advice of the medical professionals and analysts at the CDC who say that if you don’t smoke and don’t vape, don’t start.
Because we care…