September 6, 2019 – Another innocent victim has lost their life as a result of using an electronic smoking device. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that 33 states have reported 450 suspected cases of vaping-related severe lung illness, with 3 confirmed deaths and a fourth under investigation. This afternoon, the fourth death was confirmed in Los Angeles County. Many individuals reported recent use of vaping products containing THC, while others used nicotine products and some used both nicotine and THC. As of 9-17-19, seven deaths have been confirmed.
Regardless of the type of vaping product, e-liquid, or device manufacturer, these products are not safe despite the message broadly touted by e-cigarette enthusiasts since the introduction of these products into the United States over 10 years ago. In September 2009, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) noted, “The lack of substantial research on e-cigarettes and the potential health risks posed by the use of this product, both to the user and to the people around them, is of grave concern. The burden of proof on the safety of e-cigarettes rests on their manufacturers.”
Until the source of these lung illnesses is identified, all e-cigarette products should be pulled from the shelves. Warnings to e-cigarette users are also in order; however, if we truly want to protect the health and safety of adults and the youth who have access to these products – despite the manufacturers’ alleged commitment to prevent underage sales – then we suggest a recall of all devices and e-liquids from all tobacco and marijuana retailers until the source of the problem is found in order to prevent any additional unnecessary deaths or illnesses.
ANR took a strong position early on, that e-cigarettes should not be used in smokefree environments to protect nonsmokers from exposure to the alleged “vapor mist” emitted from these devices. The products were new and there was little to no science to affirm e-cigarette proponent’s claims that the aerosol was a harmless mist, yet ANR called for e-cigarettes to be treated in the same manner at combustible tobacco cigarettes, noting they should not be used in smokefree environments or in ways that could harm others.
Today, there is a wealth of scientific evidence that e-cigarettes and the secondhand aerosol emitted by these products contains ultrafine particles, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, nicotine, and toxins that are a new source of indoor air pollution and can cause respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. With the cases of severe lung illness on the rapid rise, we must act now to save lives.