The EVALI outbreak has affected over 2,000 people across the US and has so far led to over 40 deaths. In an emergency web page in State Health Department’s website titled “Vaping Public Health Emergency”, the DPH inaccurately states, “The cause of e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) remains unknown and under investigation at both the state and federal level.”
CDC confirms EVALI links to illicit THC
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently confirmed that the outbreak of EVALI, is almost certainly not linked with vaping legal nicotine products. The CDC published findings from a study which tested lung tissue samples from 29 case patients, and all 29 (100%) were found to contain vitamin E acetate oil.
Speaking about this report, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Michael Siegel, had pointed out that “Three of the patients whose lung samples revealed vitamin E acetate had reported using only nicotine-containing products, thus confirming that there is significant under-reporting which may explain why about 11% of the patients do not report vaping THC.”
Some EVALI victims were reluctant to admit using illicit products
In line with this, in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last September, researchers had emphasized that while in a small percentage of the cases under investigation, the participants claimed to use only nicotine, not THC, it is highly likely that for obvious reasons they may have been reluctant to admit using illegal drugs. And this latest CDC report confirmed just that.
“This is significant because although not all of the case patients admitted to using THC vapes, the finding of vitamin E acetate in their lungs essentially proves that they were indeed vaping THC oils,” said Siegel referring to the latest findings.
Damage done by misinformation is not being reversed
The public health expert had added that moving forward it is imperative that policy makers take the initiative to undo all the damage that has been done by linking the lung disease to vaping. “At this point, it is time for state policy makers and politicians to immediately discontinue their conflation of this outbreak with the problem of youth e-cigarette use. It is time for all policy makers, health agencies, and health professionals to immediately stop stating or implying that legal, nicotine-containing e-liquids have anything to do with the outbreak.”
Sadly, announcements such as the one by Massachusetts State Health Department, are indicative that the opposite still holds true. “The only thing the state health department is telling people about the cause of this disease outbreak is that the cause is unknown. This is completely irresponsible and frankly, quite shocking to me. After all, we do know the cause of the overwhelming majority of these cases. The major cause is the vaping of THC vape carts that contain vitamin E acetate oil,” said Siegel about the DPH’s announcement.