Over One Thousand Vaping Illnesses Have Been Reported To-Date
An estimated 1,300 people have gotten sick from what’s believed to be vaping, and there are at least 26 deaths reported as a result. Nearly all patients who develop a relatively mysterious lung disease related to vaping have ended up hospitalized, and around half have been admitted to an intensive care unit. Officials in the United States are calling the lung-related illness EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has studied around 1,000 cases during the vaping epidemic. Of the studied cases, 96% of patients were hospitalized, and 47% were admitted to the ICU. Doctors are unsure of specifically what’s causing the illness in people, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, who serves as principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters she believes there may be multiple causes uncovered.
Climbing Vaping Statistics
Despite mounting evidence about the potential risks of vaping, and especially youth vaping, the statistics as far as how many people are using these devices keep going up. For example, a school-based survey showed one in 11 students had used marijuana in e-cigarettes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse said there has been a “dramatic increase” in the use of vaping devices among American teens in just one year. According to the findings of the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “Monitoring the Future” survey, more than 37% of 12th graders said they’d vaped in the past 12 months, compared to 27.8% in 2017.
Vaping Illnesses Fail to Decrease
Despite warnings from organizations including the Food and Drug Administration and more evidence of the health hazards of vaping, vaping-related illnesses and vaping-related deaths continue to go up. Dr. Shauchat told reporters that officials don’t see a meaningful drop-off in new cases. She went on to say that many more people are being hospitalized every week.
Nicotine or Marijuana Vape to Blame?
There are a few theories as to why there has been a rise in illnesses and deaths related to the use of e-cigarettes and youth. One possible root cause of the illnesses is Vitamin E acetate in the vaping oils that contain THC. THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana that causes people to feel high. The FDA reports finding Vitamin E in 47% of the samples with THC. It is possible that adding Vitamin E to the THC cartridge could produce more vapor and dilute the oil, which would lower the cost of production for the manufacturing company. Among almost 600 patients who were asked about their vaping habits when they became ill, 76% said they’d used THC while only 13% said they’d vaped just nicotine.
Vaping represents only one of the many dangers of marijuana use in teenagers. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the use of marijuana may increase the risk of adverse health effects, including:
- Addiction and dependence
- Mental health disorders including anxiety and depression
- Problems with brain development among adolescents
- Weakened immune system
- Heart attacks
- Respiratory disease
LaVito, Angelica. “CDC says almost all vaping illness patients end up hospitalized.” CNBC, October 11, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.
Associated Press. “The increasing popularity of vaping marijuana draws health concerns.” NBC News, September 17, 2018. Accessed November 4, 2019.
FDA. “Lung Illnesses Associated with Use of Vaping Products.” October 25, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid misuse at record lows with marijuana use remaining stable.” December 17, 2018. Accessed November 4, 2019.
HHS. “Risks of Adolescent Marijuana Use.” April 8, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.