While vaping has been touted as a safer alternative to smoking, the long-term effects remain a mystery. Reports of the first-ever vaping fatality from Illinois are sending shockwaves across the industry.
According to worrying reports out of Illinois, vaping just claimed its first victim. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are currently 193 “potential cases” of vaping-related illnesses across 22 states, with one allegedly ending in a fatality.
Almost all of the cases reported are related to people who purchased pre-filled vaping pods containing THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis). Furthermore, all of the victims are said to have purchased the vaping cartridges from street dealers or from unreputable sources.
As CDC director Robert Redfield said, according to a BBC report, “We are saddened to hear of the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in those who use e-cigarette or ‘vaping’ devices,” he said. “This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products.“
As Dr Jennifer Layden, the chief medical officer and state epidemiologist in Illinois, explained, the person who tragically passed away was “hospitalized with unexplained illness after reported vaping or e-cigarette use.”Many patients affected showed symptoms including coughing, fatigue and vomiting, all after vaping from the THC liquid.
With that said, no solid connection has yet been established between the various cases. Officials have now requested lab tests for E-liquids and various THC cartridges from Minnesota to North Carolina, and all the way down to California and Texas.
Mitch Zeller from the US Food and Drug administration said, “we find ourselves in the early stages of these investigations trying to piece together the facts.” By that, he’s referring to the lack of knowledge we have about the medium and long-term effects of vaping as it has only been around for a decade or so.
Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, also spoke out about recent tragic news. He said, according to the same report, that he was “confident” that the issues were only coming from cannabis E-liquids and not from those just containing nicotine.
However, Dr Brian King from the CDC warned against using E-cigarettes. “We do know that e-cigarettes do not emit a harmless aerosol,” he said. But he added, “There’s a variety of harmful ingredients identified, including things like ultrafine particulates, heavy metals like lead and cancer causing chemicals,” he said, which could lead to lung issues.
Conley also spoke about how similar cases may have occured over the past few years but, for whatever reason, were not connected to vaping at the time. “It’s possible that the reported cases could have been occurring before this investigation was even initiated,” he said.
For now, the news has many people concerned about vaping in general and specifically the lack of regulation within the industry. It will now be for the coroner and other medical experts to ascertain and confirm conclusively that the death in Illinois was caused by vaping.