Misinformation continues to be a challenge for the vaping industry. After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that vitamin E acetate in black market marijuana vaping products was the cause e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), many media outlets continue to falsely blame nicotine vaping products for the lung illness that was first identified in 2019.
On his Friday episode of the show Dr. Phil, American TV personality Phillip Calvin McGraw, also known as Dr. Phil, wrongly blamed the EVALI lung illness outbreak on vaping nicotine products. “Ventilators, hospitals, deaths … there is lots of news out there on this,” McGraw said. “This isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of science.” The host then went on to use several news reports wrongly blaming nicotine for EVALI to support his false statements.
Reports of serious illnesses and deaths related to vaping began mounting in summer 2019. By mid-February 2020, the CDC reported more than 2,800 cases of lung injuries requiring hospitalization across all 50 states, and 68 death. After nearly six months of falsely claiming nicotine vaping products were the cause of the outbreak, the CDC finally admitted that the cause was illicit THC vaping products and not nicotine vaping products.
By July of 2020, the CDC said that states no longer have to track lung-related injuries caused by marijuana-based vapor products, partly because cases have dropped. The CDC said it stopped requiring states to report the numbers in February after it pinpointed vitamin E acetate as the culprit in THC vaping products that were making people sick.
McGraw holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, though he ceased renewing his license to practice psychology in 2006, according to Wikipedia. The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly recommend that people avoid use of “e-cigarettes or vaping products containing THC, especially from the illicit market.”
The UK and EU have a different view on e-cigarettes and whther combustible tobacco smokers should make the switch. More and more smokers transitioning over to vapor products after the UK Public Health stated that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking cigarettes. Experts have pointed out that EVALI cases are almost exclusive to the United States and haven’t made a blip on the radar globally. In the UK, there are approx. 3.6 million e-cigarette users with virtually no EVALI cases reported during the media coverage period in 2019 and early 2020.
The EU experience was somewhat similar to what the U.S. experienced during that period. “EVALI was largely the result of an unregulated illicit THC vape market in the United States which didn’t follow safe production standards” says Allan Rewak, executive director of VITA in Nov. of 2020. “Canada’s nicotine vape market was on the final path toward federal regulation at the time, which prevented EVALI from occurring in any significant way north of the border.”
Brad Jemmett, a former long-time smoker and now General Manager for SnowPlus – an innovation based vape company – suggests that the core of what drove the negative media was a localized, US issue. “Globally, we don’t really see EVALI cases like there were in the US, because EVALI was linked to illicit marijuana vapes, and most specifically the addition of Vitamin E acetate as a thickening agent. Our products on the other hand, are developed and tested to the highest degree, and designed specifically for adult smokers looking to transition out of smoking. At SnowPlus, we never have and never will use Vitamin E acetate in any of our products. Through innovation, we’ve aimed to simulate the smoking ritual with vape technology, to provide a less harmful alternative compared to smoking cigarettes”.
Jemmett, like many of the former smokers out there that have successfully transitioned from smoking to vaping, hope that those who are looking for an alternative to smoking can see a clearer picture now that the dust has settled, and the fake click-bait news headlines about vaping have passed.
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