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October 29, 2019

Vaping Illness Update: Most Cases Involve THC Products

Vaping Lung Injury Outbreak Impacting Mostly Men Under 35 Using THC-Containing Products


Federal health officials released an analysis of all the current vaping lung injury reports in the US and found most cases involve men and vaping THC-containing products.

On October 28, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publicized their current investigation results of the mysterious vaping-linked lung illness sweeping across the nation. This illness, which they are now calling e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), has affected 1,604 people as of October 22, This steadily growing number includes 34 deaths.   

Looking at the overview of EVALI death cases, researchers revealed that 84% of those patients used THC-containing products in the three months prior to them becoming ill.

“Further, any use of THC-containing products was reported for 86% of patients who survived and 84% of patients who died; exclusive use of THC-containing products was reported for 63% of EVALI patients who died and for 33% who survived,” the CDC’s researchers reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Report (MMWR).

Additionally, almost 60% of those who died were men, with the median age of death at 45 years old.

When looking at EVALI cases where patients survived, health officials reported that 79% of EVALI victims were under the age of 35, with almost half of all cases involving patients under the age of 25. Of these non-fatal lung injury cases, 78% were white, and 70% were males.

“It is evident from today’s report that these lung injuries are disproportionately affecting young people," Robert R. Renfield, CDC Director, said. “As CDC receives additional data, a more defined picture of those impacted is taking shape. These new insights can help bring us a step closer to identifying the cause or causes of this outbreak.”

Though the current data shows revealing trends that those vaping THC are more likely to develop EVALI, researchers have not been able to find a common e-cigarette device or product behind the EVALI cases, so they cannot reach a conclusion yet. Some of the EVALI cases also report exclusive nicotine use, so they cannot limit the cause of EVALI to only THC-containing products.

Vaping Injury Lawsuits

In addition to the EVALI cases flooding into the spotlight, increasing numbers of JUUL addiction and injury lawsuits are being filed in the federal court system by young adults and parents of teenagers. These lawsuits raise similar claims that JUUL products were illegally marketed to children and failed to inform users about the dangerously addictive nature of JUUL pods. These controversial liquid e-pods contain more nicotine in a pod than an entire pack of tobacco cigarettes.

Health officials noted that vaping has become the most popular form of nicotine in teens and young adults, spurring a youth vaping epidemic in the United States. Many states, including Michigan, New York, and California, have placed bans on flavored e-cigarette products to protect children from enticing gateway products that can lead to severe nicotine addictions and injuries. Federal officials indicate a national ban on flavored e-cigarette products may be in the works.

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