Vaping devices (also known as e-cigarettes and vape pens) were invented around ten years ago, primarily as a smoking-cessation device to help those wanting to give up smoking tobacco, whether in cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. After years of not-so-successful nicotine chewing gums and transdermal patches, tasty nicotine-infused vape juices (e-liquids) grew to popularity. Vaping is considered many times safer than smoking tobacco, or at least it was until recently.
To date, roughly 1300 known cases of lung injuries associated with vaping have been reported in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those, 28 ended fatally, and all the cases have been associated with vape juice containing THC (from cannabis) and not from conventional nicotine products. By way of a response, various snap decisions have been made at both state and federal levels who have, in some cases, banned flavored vape juices and even e-cigarettes.
Despite years of no lung issues for ex-smokers who moved to vape, tainted THC e-liquids containing additives such as Vitamin E Acetate and even Hydrogen Cyanide have led to some terrible lung injuries. A suspicious
vape cloud of mystery and uncertainty pervades the whole issue as various authorities scramble to come to terms with the “crisis.”
The real tragedy here is that the new snap regulations, aimed at stopping or at least curtailing the lung injury epidemic, may achieve little more than turning tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to tobacco. Ironically and almost comically, tobacco is readily available despite clear knowledge that it kills thousands of people each year. Shockingly, CDC figures from 2018 confirmed that around 480,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related illnesses; that’s approximately 1,300 deaths per day from smoking.
At the same time, the CDC estimates that 11 million Americans use nicotine-based vaping products. With the recently reported figure of 1,300 cases of vaping related issues, that represents only a fraction of the 11 million estimated vapers.
With all that said, the media, on the whole, has failed miserably to report the facts of the vaping crisis responsibly. The main point they missed there was that all of the cases come from black market THC vaping e-liquids and pre-filled cartridges which contain dangerous additives such as Vitamin E acetate.
While the government in the USA struggles to come to terms with the vaping problems, even in a small way, the UK has a clearer and more somber approach to the matter. The National Health Service in the UK even offers those wanting to stop smoking guidance and assistance to obtain e-cigarettes, while they claim vaping is “up to 95% safer than smoking.”
It would be the height of irony if the misinformation about the issues with tainted vape juice and cartridges ultimately turned ex-smokers back to smoking. There are even those who’ve suggested a conspiracy theory involving big tobacco aimed at increasing revenue to that industry, which was previously ‘stolen’ by vaping.
For the time being, what is known is that vaping is safer than smoking, at least in the short-term, although any long-term effects of vaping remain unclear, and that presents a problem for vapers and researchers interested in studying vaping alike. If it turns out that long-term vaping is, in fact, as harmful to the lungs as smoking, a whole industry will crumble overnight. At the same time, there are steps one can take to ensure that the vape juice they buy is “clean,” and that’s a priority for vapers at the moment.
Leaving aside the unknown long-term effects of vaping, there are ways to make sure you’re purchasing e-liquid, which is safe for vaping by checking several things before you buy: