Update on "Vaping Illness" from October 07 2019

...support your local vape shop!

On Saturday, I attended an emergency meeting in Connecticut for both business owners and consumers. While this was an event promoted as a meeting for stakeholders in Connecticut, it was obviously driven by concerns from the tri-state and beyond.

The meeting was held in a now closed vape shop that, until about a month ago, was a thriving new location. Similar to what retailers all over the country are experiencing, this particular shop closed after an 80% decline in sales directly attributable to the “vaping lung” panic--being mishandled by the CDC and misreported by the media.

Every one of us who are regularly engaging with the media have had to push back on misleading statements and headlines about the source of the lung injuries. For my part, I have tried in vain to convince a CNBC producer to correct a recent headline that claims we are seeing cases of popcorn lung in spite of an undisputed statement from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) confirming that there has never been a single case of the illness diagnosed in someone who vapes. Who knows, maybe Dr. Rachel Boykan, who appeared opposite from me on The Exchange in September, has produced an actual case study documenting the condition in someone vaping nicotine and is keeping it a secret.

All of this is contributing to a mass loss of consumer confidence in the nicotine vapor market. Declines are being reported across the entire industry, even abroad, as media coverage continues to conflate the known risks of using black market THC cartridges with e-cigarettes. If you managed to catch one of several Facebook live streams of my presentation in Connecticut, then you also had the misfortune of seeing me attempt to live-edit a list of bullet points regarding speaking to people about this crisis. Hoping that we all can have constructive conversations about vaping with our friends, family, and strangers who walk up to us offering dire warnings and condemnation about e-cigarettes, I’m formally compiling that list below. CASAA will also be updating its printable material to address recent concerns.

  • The outbreak of lung injuries being linked broadly to “vaping” is occurring in people who are using black market THC cartridges. 10% - 16% of patients who are not reporting using THC cartridges are likely withholding information due to fear of persecution for buying, possessing, and using illegal products.
  • This outbreak is yet another example of America’s failed war on drugs and highlights the urgent need for drug policy reform.
  • The sudden onset of lung injuries in a broad range of patients points to this being the result of exposure to a new chemical rather than a consequence of long-term use.
  • Legitimate e-liquid manufacturer’s are registered with the FDA and are following compliance deadlines such as registering their products, submitting ingredient lists, and making their facilities available for inspection.
  • If any company changes their formulation, the FDA can immediately take enforcement action and require the “new product” to go through the market authorization process (PMTA).

There’s more to the presentation involving youth use of nicotine, but this is a delicate matter and deserves to be better thought out. But I will at least conclude with the simple statement echoing remarks made by CTP Director, Mitch Zeller, challenging a room full of lawyers, regulators, and consultants to come up with a number for prevalence of nicotine use among young people that will be acceptable. I’m filling in the blanks here by stating that this number cannot and will never be zero. For some context (and h/t Charles Gardner for this convenient list), according to government surveys, past 30-day use of alcohol by high school students is 30%, past 30-day cannabis use is 20%, 14% of young people admit to binge drinking and none of that data is inspiring a national crisis response. Where will youth nicotine use need to be in order for everyone to take a breath and start having an adult conversation about meaningful regulations that actually benefit consumers and protect young people?

Stay safer,

Alex Clark, CEO




Take Action:

Highlights: (Sept. 26) (Sept. 27) (Sept. 30) (Oct. 4)



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