In a warning released Tuesday, California health officials instructed the public to stop using e-cigarette products immediately, responding to over 500 reports of serious lung illnesses linked to vaping.
Over the last few months, 530 people have been hospitalized across the nation with severe lung injuries linked to vaping. Several of these patients reportedly died from their severe injuries.
According to health officials, the hospitalized patients had a history of vaping either THC, nicotine, or a mixture of both. Most of the cases with most of the cases tied to vaping THC.
However, health officials have not identified the exact cause of the vaping-linked illnesses. So far, no common vaping device or chemical has tied the vaping injury cases together.
“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” stated California’s acting public health officer, Dr. Charity Dean. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”
In California alone, officials reported 90 patients hospitalized with vaping-linked lung illnesses and two vaping lung injury deaths. One of the deaths occurred in Los Angeles County.
"People are getting sick and some are dying as a result of vaping,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement released Tuesday. “Californians are encouraged to stop vaping until health officials fully understand what is causing this public health crisis.”
Vaping Illness Outbreak
For nearly a month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been investigating the vaping-linked illness outbreak striking across the United States. About 25 states have reported vaping-linked lung illnesses, and the number continues to rise as the investigation progresses.
Experts indicate an ingredient in the e-cigarette liquid cartridges may be what is harming users’ lungs. Liquid cartridges (usually containing THC and/or nicotine) are inserted into e-cigarette devices, which then heat the liquid and turn it into a vapor inhaled by users. Though no common device or chemical has been identified as causing the illnesses yet, most of the hospitalized patients vaped THC. Some of the injured patients reported vaping a mixture of THC and nicotine, while an even smaller percentage vaped only nicotine.
Patients with vaping-linked lung illnesses report a variety of symptoms including coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea.
In response to the outbreak, states across the nation are calling for more regulation of vaping products or banning them completely until health officials reach a conclusion. In early September, Michigan banned flavored e-cigarettes, which experts claim can be a gateway product to nicotine for children. In June, San Francisco completely banned the sale of any e-cigarette products, becoming the first major city in the United States to do so.
Los Angeles County supervisors came together on Tuesday to discuss the banning of flavored e-cigarette products in Los Angeles. While discussion drew many pro-vaping protesters to the meeting, the board voted to advance the measure and will vote again next week.
Vaping Injury Lawsuits
In response to the vaping epidemic, hundreds of lawsuits across the country are calling out e-cigarette product manufacturers for selling dangerous products to the public. Injured e-cigarette users claim manufacturers failed to warn consumers about the severe risks of lung illness from using vaping products. Further, the lawsuits assert that the lack of proper warning removed their right to choose a safer vaping product instead.
JUUL Labs, manufacturers of JUUL e-cigarettes and liquid pods, face growing numbers of lawsuits in the US filed on behalf of teenagers, young adults, and other adults. The lawsuits claim JUUL Labs not only targeted youth in their advertising campaigns but created a dangerously addictive product that left users unable to stop vaping or switch to traditional cigarettes.