Vaping-Related Illness Outbreak

Emory Pittman, Print Editor

Within the past few weeks, there has been a staggering rise in illnesses related to vaping. Across the US, at least 380 people, mostly teens and young adults, have been hospitalized after experiencing severe pulmonary symptoms. These people experienced shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, and wheezing, eventually leading to more serious symptoms like loss of consciousness or a complete inability to breathe. Some of these people have ended up in the hospital for weeks, hooked up on ventilators. Doctors are unsure what the exact cause of this sickness is, and they are scrambling to find a solution. One theory is related to the juice in vape pens. E-juice was found coating the lungs of one patient, causing pneumonia-like symptoms and what doctors call “vaping toxicity.”  In addition to the many people who have fallen sick from vaping, six people have died as a result of this outbreak.

E-cigarettes are marketed toward smokers looking to quit by giving them both the experience of smoking and nicotine content. They are generally considered “healthier” because they don’t use tobacco, which can cause lung and mouth cancer. However, with the introduction of flavored vapes, this activity has spread to teenagers, who quickly become addicted due to the nicotine in these products. Companies like Juul and Novo are particularly popular, and have faced lawsuits for allegedly allowing teenagers and young adults to become addicted to their products on purpose to increase their sales.

Initially thought of as a safer alternative to smoking, vaping has proven to be just as detrimental to the health of Americans as cigarettes. Because of this, President Trump’s administration has moved to place a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes within the coming months. Now, the only flavor allowed will be tobacco, hopefully diminishing the appeal vaping has to teenagers and limiting e-cigarettes’ popularity to just former smokers.