On August 27th, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that they were investigating approximately 94 cases of illnesses related to vaping in 14 states (CDC). What started as a relatively small issue has turned into a full fledged conflict, affecting many individuals across the nation. As of September 26th, there have been 805 reported illnesses related to vaping from 46 states, and 12 lives lost. As of October 2nd, 17 deaths in total (Business Insider). There is not much known about e-cigarettes since it is a relatively new invention. The first electronic cigarette that resembles current devices was introduced to the market in 2003 by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist (CASAA). This is the first time anyone has seen death and illness to this degree as a result of vaping. While vapes are still generally believed to be a safer option for smokers attempting to quit cigarettes, recent data challenges this idea. According to Mrs. Green, a teacher at Ramapo High School, e-cigarettes are “giving people something else, as they are ingesting harmful chemicals.”
After copious amounts of research that has been gathered, there have been many ideas as to what is causing these outbreaks of deaths and illnesses. A new study published by The New England Journal includes pictures of abnormal lung tissue, transformed by the detrimental habit. Dr. Brandon Larsen, a pathologist and part of the study noted, “It looks like the kind of injury that we normally see when a person is exposed to a spilled drum of toxic chemicals at their workplace” (NBC News).
However, previous investigations into vaping spawned different theories. When the numbers of confirmed cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping were still 361, the New York State Department of Health noted that in all of the tested samples containing cannabis, there were inflated levels of vitamin E acetate (NBC News).
Yet, the increased levels of vitamin E acetate were not found in the cases that the patients vaped specifically nicotine. Many health officials attempted to hold onto this possible lead, yet there was not enough proof to prove that it was the absolute cause of all the health problems.
While these are two of the most widely suspected causes, it is too early to be certain. There are many factors that researchers have to take into account while investigating the topic. Amongst them includes where the product was bought, the age and sex of the people vaping, how long they have been smoking for, and whether or not the products were spiked. While the future of e cigarettes seems unstable, New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker knows that one thing is for sure: “Va- ping of unknown substances is dangerous, and we continue to explore all options to combat this public health issue” (NBCNews).
Lung tissue with chemical injuries as a result of vaping un-
Photo Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine
By Carolina Broekhuizen