According to the findings of a new study, the risk of death associated with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) may have been elevated among patients with pre-existing respiratory, heart or mental health conditions. JUUL vape pens and other popular e-cigarettes have recently been linked to a host of potential side effects possibly resulting in permanent injury or death, and this new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 23, examines whether pre-existing medical conditions may have increased the risk of death among EVALI patients. If you or someone you know has suffered a lung illness or another serious side effect of e-cigarette use, don’t hesitate to seek legal help. You may have grounds to file an e-cigarette injury lawsuit against the manufacturing company and a knowledgeable product liability attorney can help.
Despite growing concerns about the potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes, they remain the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. This is due in large part to the addictive nature of e-cigarettes, which contain the same addictive drug that is in traditional cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid, known as an e-liquid, and turning it into an aerosol or vapor, which users then inhale into their lungs. Since last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with state and local health officials, have been investigating a nationwide outbreak of lung injuries related to vaping. More than 2,800 people across all 50 states have been hospitalized with a condition known as e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury and at least 68 have died.
According to the CDC, the EVALI outbreak has been “strongly linked” to the presence of vitamin E acetate, which is sometimes used as thickening agent in vape cartridges. The synthetic chemical is traditionally found in skin creams and supplements and is believed to be harmless when applied to the skin or taken orally. However, when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it can result in lipoid pneumonitis, a type of lung inflammation that occurs when fat particles are ingested in the lungs. People with lipoid pneumonitis experience pneumonia-like symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing and chest pain – the same symptoms reported in patients with EVALI. So far, the majority of e-cigarettes seized as part of the ongoing investigation into vaping-related lung injuries have come from the illicit market. Although cases of EVALI have been declining in recent months, there is still a lot we don’t know about the possible long-term complications of vaping.
In this new NEJM study, researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada and the NEJM Group in Waltham, Massachusetts examined cases of fatal and non-fatal EVALI to determine whether the presence of pre-existing medical conditions increased patients’ risk of death. The study included 2,558 cases of hospitalization and 60 deaths related to EVALI that occurred before January 7, 2020, and the researchers found that 65% of patients with fatal EVALI had a history of mental health disorders, 50% were obese, 47% had a history of heart disease and 44% had a history of respiratory disease. The researchers also found that most of the fatal cases involved patients who reported using e-cigarette products containing THC. Less than one-third of the fatal cases involved patients who reported nicotine use only and nearly one-quarter reported dual use.
Amid growing concerns about the potential side effects of e-cigarette use, federal regulators and health officials have taken a closer look at e-cigarette products sold in the United States, particularly JUUL vape pens and other e-cigarette devices that have been aggressively marketed to teens and prior non-smokers. In January, the FDA announced a ban on certain flavored products that appeal mostly to kids, including fruit- and mint-flavored cartridges. The ban, which began in early February, prohibits companies from manufacturing, distributing or selling unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes in the U.S.
Due to the high levels of nicotine in JUUL and other widely used vape products, the United States is now facing an epidemic of teen e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction. School districts and parents of addicted teens have brought a growing number of vaping injury lawsuits against JUUL and the makers of other popular e-cigarette products, alleging that the products resulted in lifelong nicotine addictions and caused problems with severe lung damage and other serious side effects among users. If you or someone you know is struggling with an e-cigarette addiction or suffered a severe lung injury allegedly caused by vaping, contact a reputable e-cigarette injury lawyer today to discuss your options for legal recourse.