‘Vaping crisis’ continues to harm many

Elijah Herrington, Staff Writer

If you or a loved one has let any mainstream media into your lives lately you’ve likely become familiar with the headline “vaping crisis” as well as the increasing hysteria in mom and dad’s conversation at dinner.

But yes, sadly, it’s killing kids and adults. As of November 13, 2019, “2,172 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI) have been reported,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Washington Post reports 42 deaths, ages 17 to 75. About 80 percent of those who died were under 35 years of age.

In mid-September, Senators Mitt Romney and Jeff Merkley introduced the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies Act. This legislation could regulate e-cigarettes by prohibiting non-tobacco flavors. The ENND Act would also require a public awareness campaign to educate about the dangers of vaping, funded by an e-cigarette tax.

Government action continues, as recently, there have been statements from the White House of coming regulations by recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration. However, a broad look at this “vaping crisis” shows the U.S. might be alone in granting the rise of e-cigarette popularity with this dramatic term.

In 2015, Public Health England, released government-funded research on the topic, stating e-cigarettes to be 95 percent less harmful than traditional tobacco products. They also showed that there was no evidence showing e-cigarettes act as a route into smoking for children. At the time, this was a bold publication, as skepticism seems to be the popular approach to the subject, but ever since, the British government has been promoting the use of e-cigarettes as a health-conscious alternative to smoking.

“Overall, England continues to take small progressive steps towards ensuring vaping remains an accessible and appealing alternative to smoking,” according to a statement from PHE in February.

So why is the approach to policy radically different? It’s hard to tell. What we know now is that its a complicated issue. It’s new, and we have yet to know the positive or negative effects of policy.

However, what isn’t complicated is the cause of these deaths and illnesses. As of Nov. 14, 2019, every sample of EVALI submitted to the CDC for testing contained vitamin E acetate.

Vitamin E acetate is an oil. It is used to thicken black market, oil-based, illicit cannabis products. However, e-liquid, found in nearly all Nicotine e-cigarettes, like Juul, is water-soluble.

Water and oil don’t mix together. Consequentially, they do not vape together. Therefore, the nicotine e-cigarette industry does not use oil in water-soluble mixtures.

To think the government and Congress don’t know the difference between the two products is a lie or a testimony of ignorance.

But for the average person that does not have pharmaceutical companies lining their pockets with thousands of dollars, this observation should leave them to realize that “vaping” refers to a couple of very different products. One, that has been used for that past decade to help people quit smoking with no reported cases of death. And another, that contains a schedule I, highly concentrated illicit drug, cannabis. A drug, that is classified a shelf above fentanyl, a schedule II synthetic opioid, the leading cause of death in the current opioid epidemic, with a body count of over 30,000 people last year.

Now, let’s talk about a crisis.