Over the past couple of years, many parents, lawmakers, and health officials have expressed their concerns about e-cigarettes and other vaping products. Created to serve as healthier alternatives to cigarette smoking, e-cigarettes have unfortunately drawn in young people not only with their fun flavors but also with their impressive marketing.
Fact: There has been an increasing number of vape users!
While the increasing number of vape users was not a cause for alarm in the past years, things have changed. The caution has taken on a whole new level of urgency in the past few weeks as authorities try to piece together the increasing cases of illnesses and deaths associated with vape use. These conditions have placed healthy vape users in the hospital to get treatment for serious lung diseases. There are also deaths associated with the use of e-cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that mimic cigarette smoking by heating fluids with marijuana and nicotine.
For more than a decade, e-cigarettes have been selling around the world. Unfortunately, early this year, vaping-associated illnesses have gone up. Investigations carried out by state health departments traced the first few signs and symptoms of the illness in tracked patients. The victims were at the median age of 19 and were mostly men. They were sent straight to the hospital to receive proper care and treatment, with most under intensive care. One-third of the victims were on respirators.
Generally, patients experienced shortness of breath, chest pain, or coughing before the deterioration of their health reached the point of requiring hospitalization. Other symptoms victims reported include vomiting, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever. Many victims ended up suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome. This condition is life-threatening and involves fluid buildup in the lungs, which prevents oxygen from circulating in the bloodstream for the body to function properly.
Who is affected by vape-associated illnesses and deaths?
As of this writing, the official count for potential vaping-associated illnesses in the US is 450 across states. Though most victims of these illnesses had been young, all who died in association with vaping were adults. Recorded deaths involved a 65-year-old victim, an older victim with chronic health issues, and a middle-aged victim. Authorities failed to disclose the ages of the other two victims.
How popular is vaping?
On a global scale, vape use has significantly risen, starting from 7 million users in the year 2011 to 35 million users a couple of years ago while smoking rates continue to decline. The popularity of vaping among teens has sparked a lot of concerns last year.
Before the vaping-associated illness reports, why where e-cigarettes also controversial?
Aside from being a cause of mysterious illnesses, e-cigarettes and their manufacturers have been accused of exposing people at a young age to addictive nicotine. Also, these products are capable of luring young people to smoke. Substantial evidence from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine shows that the youth who have tried vaping are more likely to use traditional cigarettes.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb considered vaping as an epidemic among teenagers. They discovered over 1,300 entities that allegedly sell to minors these e-cigarettes. He, then, made a threat to ban the manufacture and distribution of flavored vaping liquids to young people. At a federal level, this threat did not come to fruition. However, Michigan became the first state to ban the selling of flavored vaping products. Also, San Francisco was the first city to ban the selling of e-cigarettes one year after it banned selling flavored vaping products.