Since the reported vaping-related lung injuries in the U.S., many people have been chastised for carrying a Juul. Yet, none of the vaping deaths have been directly associated with Juul products, or any nicotine vape products for that matter.
In fact, lung samples tested from patients with the mysterious lung disease contained vitamin E oil. Vitamin E oil is a thickener used in black-market THC, or marijuana, vapes so that they appear purer than they are since oil thickness is a sign of a purer THC oil. The evidence clearly points towards vitamin E oil as the culprit.
I will repeat that. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vitamin E oil was found in 48 of the 51 diseased lung tissue samples thus far. So why are we still hearing so much misinformation about vaping? The sensational story sells better than the truth.
There are many renditions of the Juul story. A young boy is cut down in his prime. His mother knows for sure it was the empty Juul pods scattered around his room that was to blame. However, the facts state that his illness was more likely tied to THC vape use. Why admit that your kid may be smoking THC when you could sue Juul for a large sum instead?
When many articles mention vaping, they do not specify what kind of vaping they are referring to. They link Juuls to vaping, then vaping to the lung disease, then the lung disease to death. This link seems logical, except it is not compliant with the evidence from the CDC. There is a large missing piece to that train of thought. Many articles are ignoring the large illegal THC vape market that may be the real problem or burying this information deep within the articles, far down past the hook first paragraphs.
This leads to an uninformed public that may be throwing away their Juuls during the day and hitting their black-market weed pen at night. This lack of education could be a real danger.
Recently, I heard someone say proudly that they always knew there was nicotine in vapes, and that is how they know they are bad. However, according to Harvard Medical School, what causes cancer from smoking is not the nicotine, but the tar. The only thing dangerous about nicotine itself is that it gets you addicted to cigarettes unless you are pregnant since nicotine can affect fetal development.
Nicotine is itself a mild stimulant, just like caffeine, but with more addictive properties. However, since regulated nicotine vaping is ruled 95% safer than smoking cigarettes by Public Health England, there seems to be less to worry about than many are stating. For clarification, Public Health England is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK that employs nearly 5,000 scientists and public health professionals.
Many times articles use language hearkening back to the “reefer madness” scare of the 1940s. One Buzzfeed article explains how a Juul-addicted 16-year-old threw a mini-refrigerator from the top floor of their house because of withdrawals. The nicotine that had this child addicted was the same nicotine present in cigarettes. However, this article paints a picture of a new type of addiction that makes you uncontrollably enraged. The sensationalism is all too familiar.
The last scare was the popcorn lung rumor. Popcorn lung is caused by diacetyl, a chemical first identified as a problem in popcorn flavoring. Many articles warned of a popcorn-lung-causing substance in vapes. However, according to Public Health England and Oxford, diacetyl is present in cigarette smoke at a level that is hundreds of times higher than in vape smoke. If popcorn lung was an issue, it would have already presented itself in cigarette smokers by that logic. This is another example of people being afraid of something new, and reacting with outrage to misinformation.
One of the worst effects of the vaping scare is the number of people going back to cigarettes because they believe vaping is the menace. However, according to the CDC, 480,000 people die from smoking in the U.S. every year. There were a total of 47 deaths from the vaping-related lung disease, which was most likely not caused by anything in most nicotine vapes. For comparison, lightning kills 49 people in the U.S. per year. The misinformation on vaping may be much more detrimental in the long run than we realize.
Many have brought up the point that the vaping industry is trying to market flavored vapes to children, and many companies worldwide are facing accusations and loss of business. Though it is not ideal to have addicted youth, there is a bias when it comes to flavors and nicotine-related products. If there are no flavors for vapes, should hookah also be banned? It is flavored tobacco, after all.
Should clove cigarettes be banned? Or maybe cigarettes like Camel Crushes that are sweet and minty with the crush of a ball in the filter. Kids addicted to anything is certainly a problem, but at the same time, vape companies are suffering more than cigarette companies when it comes to regulations protecting kids. If the government was truly concerned about creating a regulation that helps kids and saves lives, it would ban cigarettes entirely. However, no regulation of that type is in the works.
In addition, Public Health England’s e-cigarette (EC) report states that “EC are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular EC use.” Almost all of the people smoking nicotine vapes are former smokers that are significantly reducing their chance of disease by doing so.
Certainly, there are more tests to be done. These findings may be proven wrong. And if they are, I hope people get behind science and propose proper regulation. However, the way that this issue has been handled by organizations from the government to media outlets has helped propagate misinformation and fear. I believe it is harming the world in more ways than one. I encourage you, before chastising someone for a bad life choice, in your opinion, make sure the evidence against them is not another sensationalized scare tactic.