By Reon Janse van Rensburg
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA warn people against the dangers of e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’, because the number of people with an unknown illness (‘vape lung’) is increasing. The CDC has not yet determined what the definitive cause of this lung illness is, but in most of the cases reported to date and where there were inquiries, people use products containing THC and nicotine. THC is a psycho-active ingredient of cannabis.
It is reported that approximately 450 people have already developed this illness and five people have already died because of the illness.
The CDC recommends that people using e-cigarettes must not modify the e-cigarettes and to not add other products that have not been approved by the manufacturer. “People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns.” – CDC
Kevin Burns, CEO of Juul Labs (a company that manufactures e-cigarettes), warned non-smokers not to use the company’s vape products. Burns stated: “Don’t start using nicotine if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with nicotine. Don’t use the product. You’re not our target consumer.”
According to Burns, it is true that the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are not known.
Juul is a large manufacturer of vape products of which many is for sale in South Africa. The company is partly owned by Altria, the tobacco company behind Marlboro.
According to the Food and Drug Administration in the USA, vaping has become an epidemic among teenagers. Juul has been accused of advertising dessert-flavoured e-cigarettes on platforms that are popular among the youth (such as YouTube, Instagram and Twitter).
When Burns was asked why he sells vape products without information on the long-term effects on consumer, he answered they believe they sell a product which is legal and that it is tested for toxic ingredients. It is sold to the American public according to the results and the available guidelines.
“The truth of the matter is, we have so little experience with vaping, relative to the experience we have with cigarettes and cigars. Recall how long it took us to figure out that cigarettes were linked to lung cancer. There is so much we don’t know,” Dr Emily Chapman, chief medical officer for the Children’s Minnesota hospital system said.
In a recent study by Yale and Duke, chemicals called acetals were identified in some of the Juul e-cigarette products. According to the researchers these chemicals are very irritating to the lung and can cause damage.