A new report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that more than 2,000 respiratory illnesses and dozens of deaths associated with vaping may have been caused by vitamin E acetate used in THC liquids for e-cigarette devices. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, contain cartridges that are filled with a liquid containing nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals and when an e-cigarette is used, the liquid is heated by the device and turns into a vapor that can be inhaled. According to the CDC, traces of synthetic vitamin E oil were found in samples of lung fluid collected from 29 people across 10 states who became ill while using e-cigarettes and the additive may be responsible for the outbreak of respiratory illnesses among e-cigarette users across the country.
Amid growing concerns about the potential health risks of vaping, there has been a considerable effort by health officials nationwide to identify the substance causing or contributing to the rash of respiratory illnesses and fatalities among e-cigarette users. Over the summer, the CDC launched an investigation into the outbreak of respiratory illnesses and fatalities and last week, the agency issued a detailed summary of this investigation in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. According to the CDC, “Vitamin E acetate has been detected in a high proportion of THC-containing products associated with EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use–associated lung injury) cases.” This includes products tested by health officials in Minnesota, New York, Utah and by the Food and Drug Administration (from 25 states).
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found naturally in some foods, is sometimes added to other foods and is also available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin E oil is believed to offer a wide range of benefits for the skin and nails and exposure to vitamin E that is ingested or applied to the skin is not believed to cause any harm. However, there is no information available about the potential damage vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E, can cause to the respiratory system when it is heated and inhaled as an additive in vaping products. The CDC and state officials believe that vitamin E oils may have been introduced into vaping products containing THC as a cutting and thickening agent.
The potential risk of respiratory illness or death from e-cigarette use was first reported by health officials in Wisconsin and Illinois in August, after several cases of serious lung injury were reported and vaping was identified as the only common factor across all cases. Since then, health officials in almost every U.S. state have identified similar lung illness cases with an e-cigarette connection. In total, 2,290 vaping-related lung illnesses have been reported in 49 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, including at least 48 fatalities associated with lung complications from vaping. It was in September that the New York State Department of Health first noted the presence of vitamin E acetate in vaping products, indicating that the oil may be a cause for concern. This latest report from the CDC confirms that the introduction of vitamin E oils into THC vaping devices aligns with the recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses and deaths plaguing e-cigarette users across the country.
Beyond the lung injuries and fatalities associated with e-cigarettes, there has been increased scrutiny surrounding vaping products recently, products that have become extremely popular among teens and young adults. JUUL is by far the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the United States and the makers of JUUL e-cigarettes currently face a growing number of lawsuits alleging that the company illegally marketed its vaping products to kids without disclosing the fact that they deliver nicotine at a much higher rate than other types of e-cigarettes, increasing the likelihood of youth becoming addicted to nicotine. Not only that, but one JUUL cartridge, also known as a pod, contains roughly the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of traditional cigarettes.
The rising popularity of JUUL has resulted in a new generation of nicotine-addicted teens and research shows that once youth and young adults begin using e-cigarettes, they are more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes. If you or someone you know uses e-cigarette devices and has suffered a nicotine addiction or serious respiratory illness, do not hesitate to contact an experienced e-cigarette injury lawyer for help. Consumers across the country who have become ill or addicted to nicotine while using e-cigarettes are filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of these potentially hazardous vaping products, and with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, you can determine whether you may be eligible for compensation as well.