Dr. Siegel analysed the health warnings that state health departments are issuing to the public with regards to the outbreak of the infamous “vape-related” lung disease: EVALI. The public health expert analyzed the warnings issued by the first 25 states (Alabama through Montana), according to the following three criteria:
- “Is there an explicit warning not to vape THC?
- Does the warning inform the public that THC vape cartridges are playing a major role in the outbreak?
- Does the warning mention THC at all?”
Based on the above criteria, Siegel then categorized the states’ warnings as follows:
- “Excellent: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC, the state informs the public that THC is playing a major role in the outbreak, and the state goes beyond CDC by not undermining its warning about vaping THC
- Good: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC and the state goes beyond CDC by not undermining this warning, but the state either fails to inform the public that THC is playing a major role in the outbreak or issues too vague a warning.
- Fair: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC but the state undermines that warning by emphasizing that no single product has been associated with all cases.
- Poor: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC but it is undermined by a vague warning or the failure to acknowledge that THC plays a major role in the outbreak.
- Very poor: There is no explicit warning not to vape THC.
- Public health malpractice: There is no mention of THC in the warning.”
The collected results were then presented in the following table:
Link to THC ignored by some, despite being confirmed by the FDA and CDC
Siegel said that the rationale for this classification stems from the fact that it has now been widely acknowledged, even by the CDC and the FDA, that illicit THC vape cartridges are largely to blame for the EVALI outbreak. He added that therefore health departments should be warning the public accordingly.
“Given that fact, it is imperative that state health departments issue an explicit warning to the public, and especially to youth, not to vape THC (at least black market THC products). Finally, this message should not be undermined by other statements in the warning.”
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