A vape-related illness outbreak is spreading across the United States, resulting in hundreds of injuries and several deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently investigating the cause of these illnesses, linked to electronic cigarettes, vapes, and the e-liquids that consumers inhale out of these devices. While the outbreak is relatively recent, the FDA has expressed regret for not launching an investigation sooner.
What Is the Vape Crisis?
Across the United States, over 800 hospitalizations and 12 deaths have occurred as a result of vape-related lung illness, a condition that causes issues with breathing and lung inflammation. The CDC and the FDA are currently investigating the cause of the illness and have not yet identified the main cause, but have uncovered the following facts.
- All patients suffering from this illness report using e-cigarettes and vape products.
- The vast majority of patients are young. 62% are between 18 and 34 and 16% are under the age of 18.
- Among 514 patients, 57% report using vape products that contain nicotine and 77% report using vape products with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
- 69% of patients are male.
Onset of the illness can develop over a few days to several weeks, varying from patient to patient. Common symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue. If you notice any of those symptoms in connection with vape use, visit a hospital as soon as possible.
FDA Taking Corrective Action
Within the next few weeks, the public expects the FDA to finalize its policy on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products in response to the vape crisis. However, the acting FDA commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless recently told a House of Representatives subcommittee that he believes that the FDA should have regulated these devices sooner.
In recent years, many public health officials, educators, and other stakeholders have expressed concern over the sale and marketing of these products. Vaping liquids in flavors like mango, root beer, and sour candy appeal to younger users, particularly minors. Bright and flashy marketing campaigns also appeal to a younger audience, and many companies tout their products as safer alternatives to smoking cigarettes.
While it is difficult to say whether early regulation could have prevented the vape crisis, the FDA is currently considering stricter measures for these products. For example, the FDA may require that manufacturers take all flavors other than tobacco off of the market and go through a premarket authorization before selling again.
What Does the CDC Recommend to Stay Safe?
If you are concerned about contracting vape-related lung illness, the CDC outlines a few steps you can take to stay safe.
- The most important action to take is to monitor your symptoms – if you notice anything that could be a sign of this illness, visit a hospital as soon you can.
- Stop using e-cigarettes and vape products immediately.
- If you do purchase these products, visit a reputable manufacturer or vendor. Do not buy them off the street or add any substances to them.
- If you used e-cigarettes to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, do not start smoking again.
- If you need assistance overcoming a nicotine addiction, contact your healthcare provider for treatment options.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against the FDA for Vape Illness?
You may wonder if you could hold the FDA accountable for your damages if you contract a vaping illness – especially since they express regret for not acting sooner. However, product liability lawsuits can only hold certain entities accountable, such as the manufacturer, the vendor, or the retail store. The FDA does not fall into these categories.
You do have the option to hold the vendor or manufacturer of the vape product that gave you the illness in a lawsuit. After you receive a formal diagnosis for your condition, contact an attorney working with victims of vape illnesses to discuss your legal options. Through a lawsuit, you can claim compensation for medical expenses, emotional damages, and more.