Vaping sparks debate in the U.S.

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By: Jacob Quezada

With terms like “public health crisis and “epidemic” being used to describe the purported surge in vaping related illnesses, public perception has shifted from skeptical inquires for “more research” to calls for an outright ban on vaping products.

Although theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food operates under the United States Department of Health and Services, the two agencies lack a consensus on the safety of vaping related products. The CDC implies that vaping could play a beneficiary role for adults making the switch amidst the ongoing investigation, yet the FDA is pursuing litigations against companies who claim their products as being as such.

The month of October has renewed questions on just how safe of an alternative vaping is smoking. The Center of Disease and Control recognizes E-cigarettes as “generally containing fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes.” 

The first linked death to vaping has both health officials and politicians searching for answers, with the latter coming to conclusions before the finalized investigation. 

In a statement addressing the first death related to vaping, Robert Redfield, director of the CDC described the August 23 death of the Illinois man as “ongoing.” 

“We are saddened to hear of the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in those who use e-cigarette or ‘vaping’ devices,” said Redfield.” “CDC’s investigation is ongoing. We are working with state and local health departments and FDA to learn the cause or causes of this ongoing.

Concerns of the long term effects of vaping has been part of the discussion since their introduction as the safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. In a September 6 telebriefing by the CDC on the ongoing investigation, Dr. Jennifer Layden chief medical officer with the Illinois department of public, described those who had fallen ill as mostly healthy young men.

What we have found so far is that the majority of people who have become ill are generally healthy, are young – a median age of 19 years and the majority have been men,” Layden said.

 Corresponding data released by the CDC on Sept.27 confirms that
“nearly two thirds (62%) of patients are 18 to 34 years old; with 22% of patients between 18-21.” 

No single product has been attributed to the spike in hospital visits according to the CDC.

 “We are aware that some laboratories have identified Vitamin E acetate in product samples, and we have connected those laboratories with the FDA Forensic laboratories to compare results. At this time, no one device, product or substance has been linked to all cases,” Kathy Harben said.

The lack of consistency and unilateral determination on whether or not vaping poses less of a risk than cigarettes within the HHS, lawmakers have decided to take executive responses. 

With Michigan becoming the first state to issue temporary ban on flavored e-cigarettes, states like New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California have followed suit with similar legislation ranging from awareness campaigns to complete bans on the sale of nicotine and thc vaping products.

The temporary bans are not without complications. Undercutting Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer executive actions, Judge Cynthia Stephens has ruled that as of October 15, the temporary ban is to be halted. Cited in Judge Stephens ruling was concerns of the ban on flavored e-cigarettes would lead adults to return to smoking “more harmful combustible tobacco products.”

In response to the judge’s decision, Gov. Whitmer has vowed to reinstate the temporary ban by appealing to the state’s supreme court. “This decision is wrong. It misreads the law and sets a dangerous precedent of a court second-guessing the expert judgment of public health officials dealing with a crisis,” said Gov. Whitmer in a public statement. 

While the gridlock between the courts and state legislators continues, October has brought more clarity in the narrowing of the investigation. “There is substantial evidence indicating that THC containing products have been a factor in 77% of the reported cases,” as posted by the CDC’s website. 

Emanating from the development of the multistate wide investigation of the sale of blackmarket THC vaping products, a crackdown and seizure of unregulated of products of the loosely regulated industry that is marijuana is underway. 

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