Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes have long marketed their products as safer alternatives to traditional smoking. While an e-cigarette may come in more appealing flavors and a more socially acceptable package, these devices still carry significant health risks to consumers – and recent reports have solidified this issue. Reports of severe lung disease linked to vaping have occurred throughout the United States, and these devices have even led to several deaths.
What Is Vaping?
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vapes, are products that companies commonly market as alternatives to smoking tobacco cigarettes. These products work by heating a liquid to produce an inhalable vapor or aerosol that a user can inhale into his or her lungs. These e-liquids may come in a variety of attractive flavors, including fruits, sodas, candies, and even baked goods, like cookie dough.
While the marketing campaigns surrounding these devices may make it seem like these products are safe smoking alternatives, science proves that this is not the case. Vaping liquids can contain dangerous and addictive chemicals, including nicotine. They may also contain cannabis oils, including THC and CBD.
The Lung Disease Outbreak
In September 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a major outbreak of lung disease and injury linked to vaping.
According to the CDC website, there have been reports of approximately 530 cases of lung injury linked to vaping. These cases occurred in 38 states and one territory in the United States. In addition, seven people across six states have died as a result of vaping-related lung injury.
All reported cases linked to this outbreak included a history of vaping and electronic cigarette use. Many affected users reported consuming e-cigarette products that contained both nicotine and THC, a cannabis product.
The agency also provides the following statistics about the outbreak.
- Approximately 72% of the lung injury victims were men.
- The majority of users affected were young – with 67% between the ages of 18 and 34.
- In addition, 16% of victims were under 18 years old.
- Only 17% of the affected users are 35 years or older.
As of publication, the CDC and the FDA have not determined the specific cause of the lung injuries. These agencies are unsure of whether a specific product is to blame for the outbreak, or if it is simply the result of vaping as a whole.
What Are the Symptoms of Vaping-Related Lung Injury?
Since the outbreak is relatively recent, it is difficult for public health officials to provide a definitive list of indicators. However, many patients have reported the following symptoms.
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- High fever
Patients report that these symptoms come on gradually, eventually culminating in a medical emergency. If you notice any of these signs, visit a hospital as soon as possible.
What Should You Do to Avoid Lung Injury?
If you believe you could be at risk for a vaping-related lung injury, it is important to refrain from using electronic cigarettes and vaping products as soon as possible. The CDC recommends the following actions for individuals who are concerned about their lung injury risk.
- If you used vaping as a way to quit tobacco products, such as cigarettes, do not return to smoking. Instead, take steps to reduce your nicotine dependence.
- If you believe you have the symptoms of vaping-related lung injury, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
- If you do use these devices, purchase all e-cigarette or vaping products from a reputable vendor. Do not buy them off the street and do not add any additional substances.
- Youth, pregnant women, young adults, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not vape.
Electronic cigarette manufacturers do not always market their products in a safe or responsible manner. The misconception that these devices are safer alternatives to cigarettes may lead people to switch instead of quit, believing that the health risks are not comparable.
With the rise in vaping-related deaths, it is important for victims of these devices to seek compensation for their injuries through legal action. If you contracted lung disease from an e-cigarette, contact an e-cigarette vaping illness lawyer who is working on litigation for vaping victims.