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Beware the vapes

Friday, Sep 6, 2019

* AP

Illinois officials on Friday reported what they consider the first death in the nation linked to vaping after the person contracted a serious lung disease. They didn’t say if the e-cigarette contained marijuana oil or just nicotine. […]

Officials cautioned, however, that there have been respiratory illnesses diagnosed where the vaping product did not contain marijuana.

* New York Times

Health officials in New York State said on Thursday that they are investigating a possible cause of a recent surge in severe vaping-related illnesses: a compound called vitamin E acetate.

The state Department of Health said in a news release that “very high levels” of the compound had been found in 13 samples from eight of 34 patients who have gotten ill in New York. The samples were analyzed as part of an investigation by the Wadsworth Center, a state laboratory. […]

“No one substance, including vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested,” [Michael Felberbaum, a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration] said. “Importantly, identifying any compounds that are present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but will not necessarily answer questions about causality.” […]

Dr. Zucker, the health commissioner, said that all of the products containing vitamin E acetate were “on the black market” and not part of New York State’s medical marijuana program.

* New York State Department of Health

Laboratory test results showed very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed by the Wadsworth Center as part of this investigation. At least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing. Vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive for New York State Medical Marijuana Program-authorized vape products and was not seen in the nicotine-based products that were tested. […]

Anyone using vape products should never use unregulated products purchased “off the street.” Cannabis-containing products are not legally available in New York State for recreational use. These unregulated products are not tested and may contain harmful substances. Users of vape products should never modify vape products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

I checked with Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who sponsored Illinois’ legalization bill. The current law, she said, does not specifically ban this additive. But there are strict limits to how much of any substance can be used to dilute concentrated oils.

* Vaping anything can be more dangerous than some may have believed

When that vapor cools down in the lungs, it returns to its original state at that temperature and pressure, she said, which means “it has now coated the inside of your lungs with that oil,” [Michelle Francl, a chemistry professor at Bryn Mawr College] said. […]

Unlike the human digestive tract, which can break down and get rid of foreign substances, the lungs aren’t designed to handle anything except gases, experts said.

Laura Crotty Alexander, a lung inflammation and e-cigarette researcher at the University of California at San Diego’s School of Medicine, said it’s not clear whether the chemical itself or its byproducts could be toxic.

* ABC 7

A suburban [Gurnee] teen is hospitalized, fighting to breathe, due to a lung infection his parents say was caused by vaping. […]

“I’m 18 years old and my lungs are like a 70-year-old’s,” he said.

Adam spent the last year and a half consuming about one and a half Juul pods a day.

* Meanwhile

Michigan became the first state to ban both online and in-store sales of flavored e-cigarettes Wednesday.

Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison commended Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for taking action, and called on Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and state lawmakers to do the same to protect teens and young adults.

Pritzker’s spokeswoman released a statement, saying, “The Governor has convened a working group of medical and legal experts to study the scientific evidence so they can develop long-term solutions to keep Illinoisans safe and healthy. So far, this administration has worked with the General Assembly to raise the smoking age to 21 and made e-cigarettes and vaping much more difficult for young people to get their hands on.”

…Adding… Introduced yesterday by Rep. Deb Conroy

Creates the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act. Prohibits the sale or distribution by an establishment of any flavored tobacco product. Provides that the Department of Public Health shall enforce the Act and may adopt rules or guidelines for the implementation and enforcement of the Act. Amends the Tobacco Products Tax Act of 1995. Permits the Department of Revenue to suspend the license of any distributor that violates the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act.

* Related…

* Springfield Smoking Ban Extended To E-Cigarettes, Vaping

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments »
  1. - SpfdNewb - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:14 am:

    The quote about the 18yo kid consuming about 1 1/2 juul pods a day is frightening. 1 pod is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. No wonder he feels his lungs feel like 70.


  2. - Honeybear - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    I heard this on NPR this morning. Quick question.
    What was vitamin E doing in the tainted mix?
    They never explained why


  3. - BR91 - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    Time to put the brakes on until they figure out what in the hell is going on with this stuff. It’s turning into a health crisis.


  4. - Just Observing - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    Certainly there needs to be more study on vaping, but often left out of the conversation is how vaping has allowed people to quit smoking and also nicotine altogether. I tried quitting cigarettes hundreds of times — I switched to vaping for a while — and then I transitioned off of that for the easiest nicotine cessation of my life. I don’t know why/how but it was just easy — that was about five years ago and I haven’t looked back.


  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    ===What was vitamin E doing in the tainted mix?===

    It’s in an oil that’s used to dilute the concentrated nicotine/cannabis oil.


  6. - Just Observing - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    === 1 pod is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. ===

    One pod may (or may not) be the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes when quantifying nicotine, but its not measured in terms of “damage.”


  7. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    I watched my Dad die from emphysema at 57. He started smoking when it was immoral but not unhealthy.

    Hate the thought of another wave of nicotine addicts and lung disease. Whatever is legal and effective to limit this, I support.


  8. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    In the old days people used to smoke good, old-fashioned joints. Can’t recall anyone ever getting this sick even from bongs. Deaths only due to marijuana ingestion have not existed before. The industry needs to work to keep it that way.


  9. - JS Mill - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    =Time to put the brakes on until they figure out what in the hell is going on with this stuff. It’s turning into a health crisis.=

    It has been at crisis level for two years.

    Funny, e-cigarettes have been around for more than a decade. Until Juul started marketing toward kids and makers started pushing candy flavored oils we really didn’t see much of this in schools.

    Then whamo and in 2017 it seemed like every kid was doing it.


  10. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:29 am:

    Humans have co-evolved with both tobacco and cannabis in their natural plant forms…leave the plants alone…is good advice.

    Old school flower power is the natural way.

    Oils and lung tissues don’t mix…It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature…still.


  11. - Honeybear - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    Thanks Rich, now I get it. Awful stuff this is.


  12. - Honeybear - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    My teen daughter says it’s really bad in the schools. There are bathrooms she won’t even go into because it’s like vaping yourself. I asked where the teachers or hall monitors are? She just shrugged. This is not a bad High School. It’s an excellent High School.


  13. - Downstate - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:41 am:

    The appeal of vaping for younger people is the “smoke” or vapor emission. Turn that feature off, and suddenly, young people won’t find it so “cool”.


  14. - Anon - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:44 am:

    People need to do research on these media reports. These issues are coming from black market vape, not your juul or other similar products. You should follow the money on these stories. Who’s pocket are they in. 9 out 10 probably have big tobacco money somewhere.


  15. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Why would anyone market “cool” tobacco products? targeting young customers…causing a potentially life long (often deadly) illness…unless they did not care about any negative consequence.


  16. - Anti-Immoderate - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    ===9 out 10 probably have big tobacco money somewhere.===

    Sometimes its big healthcare money. Vaping products are replacing other cessation products like gum, patches and prescriptions. If you like tinfoil hats you could even say they make a lot of money treating smokers.

    So basically you’ve got Tobacco and Healthcare both gunning against vaping. The vaping industry has no real sway. It’s David versus Goliath when it comes to managing PR.


  17. - A guy - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    Time to create an Exvape hatch


  18. - Maryjane - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    How many of the tainted cartridges containing THC were purchased from a licensed Cannabis dispensary, I wonder? Once identified, tracking back from the store to manufacturer should be fairly straightforward.


  19. - Leatherneck - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Wednesday night, the Springfield City Council approved a citywide indoor vaping ban:

    https://www.sj-r.com/news/20190904/springfield-city-council-approves-vaping-ban


  20. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:18 pm:

    “Deaths only due to marijuana ingestion have not existed before.”

    They still don’t, friend …no one has died from ingesting cannabis in any natural form.


  21. - Renzo - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    ===How many of the tainted cartridges containing THC were purchased from a licensed Cannabis dispensary, I wonder?===

    Good to note that vitamin e acetate is not used in medical cannabis products, only black-market vapes.


  22. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    “You should follow the money on these stories. Who’s pocket are they in. 9 out 10 probably have big tobacco money somewhere.”

    Tinfoil hat much?


  23. - anon2 - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    == “You should follow the money on these stories. Who’s pocket are they in. 9 out 10 probably have big tobacco money somewhere.” ==
    == So basically you’ve got Tobacco and Healthcare gunning against vaping. ==

    Last year Altria, a giant tobacco conglomerate that makes Marlboro cigarettes, spent $12.8 billion to purchase a 35% share of Juul.


  24. - lake county democrat - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    The U.K. counterpart to the FDA has taken a fairly pro-vaping stance. Millions of people are vaping every day (maybe not that many vaping weed in the legal states, but still legions) - I don’t mean to diminish how serious this problem is with the black market stuff, but let’s not overreact either.


  25. - BilboSwaggins - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    *I heard this on NPR this morning. Quick question.
    What was vitamin E doing in the tainted mix?
    They never explained why*

    So there’s a little bit of complexity to this, but it has to do with how the black market adapts to consumer expectation. For a long time the litmus test on the street for whether or not someone had bought a “legit” cartridge was how thick the oil was. The thicker it was, the better, because it means it wasn’t cut or diluted with glycol or some other substance. So manufacturers, illegal and legal, got wind of this, and started using things like vitamin e as a thickening agent to cater to the expectation that thick = pure.

    But add a thick oil to an already thick oil and you end up with a pretty nasty combination. Not to mention this vitamin e substance isn’t the only thickening agent they’re using.


  26. - NorthsideNoMore - Friday, Sep 6, 19 @ 4:36 pm:

    The Doc on WGN 9 made it very clear that oil in your lungs is a really bad thing, Vaps that provide that pathway are not good and in fact can kill you if your lungs lose capacity to transfer O2 to your body. Those of you old enough to remember in the late 70s early 80s people died sniffing aerosols that had oils in them.


  27. - Anon - Sunday, Sep 8, 19 @ 11:05 am:

    Cautionary statement: One may or may not be against vaping. But doing things like Michigan just instituted is a fresh twist on the “war on drugs.” By blocking legitimate access, all that is left is the black market… which arguably is the cause of this latest outbreak of people having lung issues. There is a theory in the community that the black market sellers are taking used cartridges, cleaning with solvents and refilling. This on top of Vitamin E oil dilution is a recipe for disaster! I cannot for one minute believe that the Juul buyers, purely Juul, are on this list. More than likely, they are afraid to come clean that they bought black market THC. Even when faced with health problems or death, they still fear spending their last days in jail. So again, don’t block the sales - but yes, more studies please. Even if you are only a marijuana user (vs nicotine or plain) these are convenient delivery systems.


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