News/OP-ED: Dangerous Rise In Vaping Has Caused Eight Deaths

by Joshua Lucero

There have been a reported 450 possible medical cases related to use of nicotine Electronic-cigarettes, or E-cigs, as well as black market cannabis vaping, including as many as eight deaths, across 33 states, including newly reported deaths in California, Indiana and Minnesota.

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The main causes of these cases are certain lung illnesses that have been connected to vaping in the last three months.

“Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in,” according to Fox News.

According to Jacob Bordoovsky, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine, this means chemical additives are altering either cannabis cartridges, particularly those that were obtained from black market trade, or E-nicotine cartridges with synthetic chemicals like vitamin E acetate.

It is important to note: these incidents have been tied to BOTH the use of nicotine and cannabis devices, especially those obtained by underage users illegally. The primary reason behind these sudden deaths are the number of black-market cannabis cartridges and nicotine devices being sold from outside suppliers, rather than regulated government-issued distributors.

Currently, eight people have died from related lung failure, and this number will, unfortunately, likely be on the rise. There is no current way to stop this phenomenon from happening from a legal standpoint. Though there are supposed regulations to stop vapes getting in the hands of underage youth, the majority of the time this epidemic impacts youth that have recently become of legal smoking age.

The youth have been the main victims because of legalization issues. Currently, cannabis is legal in California, Alaska, Nevada, Organ, Washington, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. Many of these states have up-to-code products that go through regulations. The main incidents are teens from other states who have made cannabis illegal, but illness can still happen from legal dispensaries.

However, it’s the black market boom that is most significant, where illegal distributors load cannabis cartridges with dangerous additives, like synthetic vitamin E acetate and other chemicals, which are similar to paint thinner. The main victims of these issues are usually around the age of 19. 

There is no way to completely eradicate this issue as a society without more accountability among distributors and government regulators, but as a school, Vice Principal Mr. Adan Jaramillo hopes to take steps in the right direction and allow students to understand all of the information surrounding these products “to formally educate the students and show why this is bad, to show what the effects on the body,” according to Mr. Jaramillo.

He believes the issues faced with the youth vaping should not be an immediate suspension or expulsion, but there should be a way to make the student understand why this is a serious health risk. Only in circumstances “when students have vaped or distributed with another person on campus” does Mr. Jaramillo believe suspension would be necessary.

Students are taking notice of their at-risk exposure to cannabis and nicotine from information outlets, such as Instagram, Twitter and others. Students have been exposed to the E-cig trend for quite some time now, but the only thing that has worked on stopping this issue is the exact facts that have been propagated over social media. 

In the past years, there has been a rise in E-cigarette users.  These devices are constructed in many different ways, with the market currently holding around 460 different e-cigarette brands. These devices are constructed to look like cigars, pipes, traditional vape pens or even USB-like devices.

However, they all contain some of the common effects of nicotine addiction. Without nicotine, people would not be smoking any tobacco products today. In tobacco products, there are countless chemicals that are orchestrated in the process of making these E-juice products. Some of these products that are flavored with “cinnamon, vanilla and cherry flavors react with propylene glycol, the main ingredient in many vape juices, to create entirely new chemicals,” according to a study published in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

This means that these flavoring additives, even those not found in black market products like vitamin E acetate, have a possibility to irritate lungs over the long-term. As such, doctors caution consumers to stop using electronic devices altogether, unless they are being used to wean addicts off traditional cigarettes.

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