Vaping in the U.S. has been gaining in popularity for a few years now, so much so that selling e-cigarette devices and their liquid has become a booming business — Lamar County has at least three such stores.
But health officials at state and federal levels are begging Americans to drop the vapes and e-cigarettes, at least for now, until they can figure out why some people are coming down with serious breathing illnesses.
Officials have identified about 450 possible cases, including as many as five deaths, in 33 states. The count includes newly reported deaths in California, Indiana and Minnesota, according to the Associated Press.
The trouble is that no single device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to the illnesses, officials said. Some vaped THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s effect, others didn’t. Some of the ill are teens, a customer base that shouldn’t even exist in the U.S.
“Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain and vomiting,” the AP reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now investigating. Until it can determine what’s causing the illnesses, the consensus is people should stay away from vaping.
When these devices launched, they fell between the regulatory cracks because they weren’t a food, a drug or a medical device, according to Kaiser Health News. For years doctors suspected a link between vaping and lung injuries, and it’s only now that there’s an apparent rash that people are paying attention.
The American Vaping Association deems e-cigarettes and vapes as “harm reduction products” because they’re marketed as a way to reduce dependence on combustible tobacco. Given what’s happening, the association might want to revisit moniker.