Vaping and the E-Cigarette Industry; A National Epidemic

Sleek and minimalist in the design, with a wide variety of flavors and portable chargers able to be discretely plugged into USB-ports; there’s an undeniable convenience behind the technology that fuels ‘vaping’ and the booming e-cigarette industry.

Initially promoted as a “healthy” alternative to cigarettes, major signs are pointing to vaping and the e-cigarette as being major contributors to this nation-wide epidemic. 

What’s Happening?

Sitting at a current total of 1,080 cases, and with a shockingly young demographic of users – it’s no surprise that the e-cigarette outbreak has been greeted with a panic-stricken response from consumers, parents, and health-officials alike.

Tuesday, September 26th, the Virginia Department of Health confirmed the first death of an unnamed Southwest Virginia resident.

“I am deeply saddened to announce the death of a Virginia resident related to this outbreak,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver said. “Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.”

Cause of death was linked directly to severe lung injury, bringing the epidemic’s current total to 18 deaths nation-wide. Unfortunately, a 19th report has recently been filed in the state of Connecticut.

In an ongoing study conducted by Harvard University, findings have led scientists to believe the addictive effects of vaping are far more serious than users initially realized.

Who’s Using Them?

Highly specific marketing campaigns have taken social media by storm, igniting a strong feeling of community for e-cigarette consumers. This ‘user-friendly’ product positioning was intended to be directed at individuals looking to quit smoking, but the exact opposite has occurred.

 E-Cigarette User Statistics Graphic

Source for statistical graph found here

On October 8th Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the identity of a 17-year old boy who died from a vape-related illness. The minor was previously hospitalized twice in September for lung-related illnesses.

Unquestionably, there has been a dramatic rise of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes. With numbers skyrocketing from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018.

That’s a difference of about 1.5 million youth. 

Stanford University conducted a study and discovered an alarming piece of information; consumers are not registering an actual addiction taking place. Those individuals are, however, experiencing both physical and mental symptoms commonly associated with nicotine-withdrawals.

However good the marketing, the ‘harmless’ image projected by e-cigarette companies is quickly becoming shattered. Attention is being drawn into just how dangerous e-cigarette products are. 

What’s in them?

An independent analysis released by the Mayo Clinic showed 17 lung tissue biopsies taken from individuals who became ill after vaping. Out of that population, 12 of those consumers used e-cigarette products that contained marijuana or cannabis oils. Two of which died from lung-related complications.

“The outbreak currently is pointing to a greater concern around THC-containing products,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters. “However,

we can not pinpoint whether the only risky substance correlating to lung injury are those that contain THC.”

The results being highlighted by vaping and the e-cigarette industry are unlike anything researchers have seen with cigarette or marijuana users.

With toxicology reports still being released, public health officials are urging consumers to use extreme caution during this time.

Damage inflicted by vaping and the e-cigarette have shown overlapping qualities to what can occur when the lungs are exposed to toxic gases and chemicals. 

“We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg,” said Mayo Clinic pathologist Dr. Brandon Larsen in a recently released video.

Research is still underway uncovering the true impact vaping and the e-cigarette have on the human body. Due to the dramatic information gap fueled by a number of unknowns, officials at the Center for Disease and Control are strongly urging Americans to put their e-cigarettes down, and to avoid picking them up again.

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