The Vaping Epidemic: US vaping illness tops 500; Missouri man marks 8th death

  • More than 500 people are now diagnosed with vaping-related breathing illness, exact cause still unknown
  • A man from Missouri dies, topping the death toll to 8
  • Broadcasting companies are pulling ads in response to the growing epidemic

NEW YORK – More than 500 people have been diagnosed with vaping-related breathing illness, however, the cause still remains unknown, according to U.S. health officials.
via Craig Mitchelldyer/AP

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of the total 530 patients have been under the age of 25. A smaller fraction, 17% of the total, was over the age of 35.

The Food and Drug Administration’s criminal investigations unit had started to track leads early on, especially when cases pointed to black-market vaping products. Mitch Zeller, the agency’s tobacco director, stressed that it is not interested in prosecuting individuals who use illegal products, but is lending a hand because of the unit’s special skills.

“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.

Doctors describe the illness resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently creating a caustic substance. Patients report symptoms such as the rapid onset of coughing, weight loss and significant breathing difficulties. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms generally appear over the course of a few days but can take as long as a few weeks to arise.

There is no single vaping product or ingredient has been linked to the illness but the CDC suspects “chemical exposure.” The outbreak has affected users who use liquids that contained cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as well as nicotine-containing products, but it is more prevalent among THC vapers than users who self-report using only nicotine products. 

In all confirmed cases, patients reported vaping within 90 days of developing symptoms, and most had vaped within a week of symptom onset. There is no indication that the outbreak is contagious.


Another death was also reported in Missouri, bringing up the total casualties to 8.

A Missouri man has died from vaping-related lung disease, according to health officials. This brings up to the death toll to eight, as US health officials race to uncover the causes of the illnesses that affected more than 500 people.
via Alvarez/Getty Images/NPR

The latest victim was in his 40s. He died this week at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. According to reports, his lungs were unable to provide enough gas exchange that leads to heart failure and near cardiac arrest. He later died from acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Dr. Michael Plisco, Mercy Hospital’s critical care pulmonologist says the man started vaping because of “chronic pain issues.” “He started out with shortness of breath and it rapidly progressed and deteriorated, developing into what is called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Once the lungs are injured by vaping, we don’t know how quickly it worsens and if it depends on other risk factors.”


Major broadcasting companies are doing efforts to respond to the e-cigarette epidemic. Broadcasting giants including CBS, Viacom, and WarnerMedia all say that they are pulling advertisements by Juul and other e-cigarette markers as concerts over growing teen use of the products and the hundreds of cases of illness linked to vaping continue to rise. 

Image result for juul advertising

NPR reported that Viacom, which owns cable channels including MTV, BET, and Comedy Central announced that they were pulling e-cigarette ads right away. 

“After reviewing the recent reports regarding the potentially serious health threats posed by e-cigarettes, Viacom has revised its policies regarding e-cigarette advertising, and will no longer air ads in this category effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.

As vaping illnesses rise, doctors ward of possible ‘irreversible damage’ to lungs. So far, investigations are still underway.  – APNews/CNBC/GlobalNews

— The Pacific Voice

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