One of the latest accusations faced by the vaping industry, is that e-cigs are behind the outbreak of a severe lung disease which has popped up across a number of US states. According to reports, up until now there have been a total 193 such cases, one of which has tragically resulted in death.
Most of the cases are occurring amongst youth or young adults, and the acute disease appears to be lipoid pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and/or chemical pneumonitis. All hospitalized individuals have allegedly reported using e-cigarettes and therefore physicians, health departments, and the CDC alike, have been urging the public to stop vaping.
All California cases have been linked vaping marijuana products
Meanwhile, with regards to the 21 cases reported in California, the state’s public health authorities have connected them to vaping unlicensed cannabis products. In Kings County, where eight cases were reported in July and August, public health officials have found that the victims had purchased unlicensed vaping products from “pop-up” cannabis dealers.
“The legal vapes have been actively regulated by FDA since Aug 2017. FDA has conducted thousands of inspections of manufacturers and vape stores, published manufacturing guidance, sought product removals etc. These tragedies point to illegal vapes and THC.”
“Our doctors noticed these cases of acute respiratory distress syndrome, and typically this time of year you’d see maybe one case. We had seven inside a month,” said Nancy Gerking, assistant director of public health in Kings County. That’s when the alert was sounded. ”Everyone was purchasing from these pop-up shops,” added Gerking, referring to unlicensed dealers of cannabis products. “That seems to be the similarity among the cases.”
In line with Gerking’s statement, the FDA’s former chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb, tweeted that given the controls set in place by the agency, it makes sense that the cases would be linked to the consumption of illegal products. “The legal vapes have been actively regulated by FDA since Aug 2017. FDA has conducted thousands of inspections of manufacturers and vape stores, published manufacturing guidance, sought product removals etc. These tragedies point to illegal vapes and THC,” he said.
“Health officials can target imports and conduct blitzes at international mail facilities to try and capture, shut down more illegal and counterfeit vapes and source some of the dangerous products. There are already published FDA lists of known dangerous ingredients to look for,” added Gottlieb.
The ALA refutes the evidence
On the other hand, Erika Sward, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association (ALA), said that it’s too early to determine that illegal products are solely to blame. “With all due respect to former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb, I think it’s too soon to speculate about the cause or the reason why we’re seeing this … I firmly believe that had FDA not delayed the oversight of these products in July of 2017 that we would be in a much different position than we are today.”
The above comment from Sward does not come as a surprise. When Gottlieb was FDA Commissioner, she blamed him for what she called the “wild west e-cigarette marketplace.” “The tobacco industry has long been happy to place fingers when there have been issues of counterfeit cigarettes … The bottom line is that e-cigarettes are not safe, and from the American Lung Association’s perspective, no one should be using e-cigarettes,” she said at the time.
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