By Jeremy Mauser || Staff Writer
Earlier this month the Trump administration announced that they are close to finishing up a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. More than 800 people have gotten sick and at least 12 people have been killed across the United States due to vaping, according to reporting from The Oregonian.
According to Politico, President Trump stated during a meeting with Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary, and Ned Sharpless, the acting FDA Commissioner, that “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected…People are dying from vaping, so we’re looking at it very closely.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this past Thursday that vaping was linked to 530 lung-related illnesses as a probable cause. They also predicted that the death toll will rise due to the severity of many lung illnesses.
However, per The New York Times, public health officials still haven’t found success in determining the causes of the hundreds of hospitalizations. Complicating the research is that many patients currently rely on ventilators and cannot inform investigators of which substances they vaped, although officials determined that oil stained many affected lungs.
Officials have also stated that many who fell victim to illness had smoked THC-based products, with both street vendors and recreational/medical retailers supplying the product. However, the CDC has not yet identified a single cause of the outbreak.
One of the most recent casualties was a St. Louis male in his 40’s who began vaping this previous May and began suffering from chronic pain. He passed away after a month in the hospital, during which time his symptoms went from shortness of breath to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Moreover, the CDC also revealed some demographics behind those hospitalized: nearly 75% are male, 66% are between 18 and 34, and 16% are under 18 years of age. 38 states and one U.S. territory have seen victims. Canada also witnessed its first victim recently.
From these statistics stems the decision of the Trump administration and certain states to propose restricting flavored e-cigarettes. In doing so, they hope to deter teenage vape use, which-pursuant to The New York Times-has doubled in the past two years.
Members of Congress from both sides of the partisan aisle push for the flavor bans, restrictions on ages of users, and other measures that could discourage the youth from beginning their usage.
Per Politico, health officials expressed concerns regarding the increasing use of e-cigarettes and their marketed safety months ago, although reports stemming from vaping-related illness first came into fruition in the past month.
The New York Times also reports that India is close to outlawing electronic cigarettes nationwide, despite their high rates of citizens smoking and chewing tobacco. The ban is expected to pass by the end of the year.
But back in the United States, vaping industry groups-including The Vapor Technology Association-are fighting against the regulations, arguing that flavored vaping products are effective as smoking cessation tools and that officials haven’t proven a strong connection between their products and the illnesses. Many also argue that the illnesses are caused by black-market cartridges, which presumably could not be restricted if a ban on legal vaping products went into effect.
To prevent the restrictions from becoming law, the vaping industry groups will have to prove that the products do not pose a public health threat. Meanwhile, politicians will continue taking actions that they believe will prevent the youth from engaging with flavored vaping.
Sophomore Jeremey Masuer is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.