Recent mysterious deaths and illnesses resulting in bans of fruit, spice, herbal or mint-flavored e-cigarettes have everyone talking about the potential dangers of vaping and preventing teenagers from becoming addicted to nicotine. But there are also a growing number of older adults who have used vaping to cut down or eliminate their tobacco use, a known deadly substance with a long history of scientific study. Could banning e-cigarettes have the unintended effect of scaring people, both young and older, back into smoking tobacco?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 8.4 percent of adults over the age of 65 smoke. And while regulations for e-cigarettes are several years off, recent deaths and illnesses have the public and legislators scrambling to walk back lax distribution controls. The CDC suspects the recent outbreak of severe lung disease among e-cigarette users is linked with a “chemical exposure” but a specific device, ingredient, brand, flavor or substance has not been uncovered. Many of the affected smokers reported using THC or CBD and nicotine products, leading researchers to question if mixing substances may be a contributing factor. The Food and Drug Administration is collecting samples to test for a wide range of chemicals and urges vape users to avoid any THC products which may contain vitamin E acetate, a key focus of investigations into suspect cannabis vaping cartridges.
The flavor of vape products is not known to be a contributing factor in the current outbreak but the recent ban on flavored vape products is hoped to prevent youth from getting hooked on e-cigarettes. One has to wonder if users will, instead of quitting, turn to less regulated, unsafe black market products or tobacco use.
The latest statement from the CDC advises that people who do use e-cigarette products be vigilant about seeking medical attention if they develop a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or fever. Dot not buy any e-cigarette product off the street or modify any vape product or device. E-cigarettes should not be used by any youth, young adult, pregnant woman or adult who does not currently use tobacco products. Adult e-cigarette smokers should not return to using tobacco products.
For the latest update on e-cigarette product use and lung injury, visit the CDC newsroom here.