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Cutting agent in illicit THC products blamed for a wave of vaping related illnesses

Over the past few months many individuals, between the ages of 13 to 75, have suffered a "vaping associated lung injury.”

An American teen was admitted into hospital with what he thought was a case of pneumonia, one month later he is awaiting a double lung transplant. This is believed to be the first caused by vaping. He is one of 2,051 people who have been affected by a strange vaping-related illness.

Vaping has become a new trend circulating through today’s youth. Yet this illness hasn’t seemed to affect the popularity of the vaping trend. There has always been uncertainty about the long term safety of vaping and now the outbreak of sickness and death seemed to confirm those fears. Now, the Center for Disease Control is pointing the finger at unregulated THC products.

As of October 2019, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that more than 2,051 people have been affected by vaping-related illness. After months of research, the CDC has now officially blamed the chemical Vitamin E acetate, an oil that is used as a cutting agent in illicit THC products. This comes after months of speculation surrounding the chemical. As of November 7th, there have been 33 confirmed deaths linked to vaping. Over 77% of cases have been linked to THC products. 

Symptoms of the lung injuries are similar to those of pneumonia; including severe coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Symptoms become so severe that the individuals need to be hospitalized.

These unexpected illnesses have put a risk to a large population of youth at hand, and come at a time of intense public scrutiny of the vaping trend, especially among teens.

One of the most popular vape companies, Juul, has been criticized for helping vaping become popular and trendy. With a variety of fruity flavours, and an appealing look, the juul has become a favored choice of vape. As Juul sales have skyrocketed, so have the number of highschool and middle school students who admit to vaping. Juul has now decided to suspend sales of their fruity flavours.

Multiple U.S. states have enacted vaping bans. Fines, and school suspensions are some of the consequences being faced if you choose to vape underage and get caught. 

Even as this information has come out, teens continue to vape. 

One 15-year-old male high school student I spoke to confirmed that vaping has affected his health. “During sports I find it difficult to breathe,” he said. “Sometimes though I find myself going out of my way to find a vape.” 

The student I interviewed also expressed that they have found that sometimes they feel “restrictions to breathe, shortness of breath, and loss of breath quicker.” This student has been vaping for 4 years.

 Still, even after reports of illness and death, teen vaping shows no sign of slowing down. A common sentiment I heard among other young vaping users, was, “What’s the big deal?”

Cover Image: Flikr/Vaping360

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