Health officials have confirmed that there have been a series of deaths and injuries related to an outbreak of a serious lung illness caused by vaping and the use of e-cigarettes. The first cases were recorded on August 17, 2019 and the first death was on August 23.There have been 39 deaths as of October 18, 2019. Most of the deceased used vape products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The Center for Disease Control has confirmed that there are now over 1300 cases of this illness associated with vaping. Half of these cases are people under 25 years old, while 16 percent are under the age of 18.
One possible culprit is counterfeit e-cigarette pods that have not had their ingredients tested. On September 3rd, 595 counterfeit pods worth $11,500 that had been shipped from Hong Kong to Warrington, Pennsylvania were seized by customs officials. These pods are sold for much less than the authentic ones. They might seem like a steal, but they can cause serious damage to health. Another culprit could be tocopheryl acetate in marijuana vaping products. The New York State Department of Health states that nearly all cannabis-containing samples that have been tested contained high amounts of tocopheryl acetate. Usually tocopheryl acetate is ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, if the vitamin is inhaled, the damage that can be done is unclear.
The most common symptoms of vaping-related lung illness are fever, weight loss, shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Not all patients have symptoms, and some may have been diagnosed as pneumonia by mistake. If you have been vaping frequently and have been experiencing these symptoms, the CDC recommends that you go to a nearby hospital.
A student at Washington who has admitted to vaping and prefers to be anonymous spoke to me in an interview. When asked about the epidemic, he said, “the majority of the deaths from vaping were caused by unregulated or fake vape pods which contained ingredients that aren’t intended to be vaped. Overall I think that vaping is less dangerous than smoking, especially when done in moderation.” When asked if he felt that he would be part of the epidemic group and if he would quit vaping, he said, “I would not because I don’t vape very often and I don’t buy from an untrustworthy source. If I did get sick from vaping I would definitely quit.”
Regarding the deaths and injuries happening all over the country, Mr. Sotelo, the health teacher at Washington, said “the sooner the kids learn about the harmful effects of vaping the better but kids shouldn’t be vaping in the first place because by the time they’re in their twenties, they can get sick.”
Until the cause of these injuries and deaths have been found, these cases will seem to go up.
It is currently Amal Afsal’s senior year at Washington High School. He was born and raised in Fremont, California. For his third and final year at the Hatchet, he will be the news editor. Amal enjoys writing about a variety of topics at the Hatchet, but prefers News and Opinions articles. In his free time, Amal enjoys playing video games while also occasionally watching television and browsing Reddit. He enjoys playing Badminton at WHS’s open gym and is employed by the restaurant, iniBurger. Amal wants to go to community college and transfer to a university within a couple of years.