A 15 year-old Texas boy who died of lung related injuries due to “vaping” is now the youngest of over 55 Americans to die from respiratory illness tied to e-cigarette use. This news comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products can be directly tied to at least 2,602 additional hospitalizations.
The CDC has since released a series of reports on the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries presenting evidence that vitamin E acetate, one of the chemical agents used in marijuana vape cartridges plays a significant role in the lung-related illness.
In reaction to its findings, the CDC has labeled vitamin E acetate a “chemical of concern” and issued recommendations for the substance to be removed from e-cigarettes and vaping products.
The condition, known as E-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury or EVALI, is still somewhat mysterious but experts report that existing data draws clear link to the vitamin E acetate chemical as one source of the illness.
The concerns raised by the CDC have made an impression on lawmakers across Vermont taking a closer look at how to regulate these products. Lawmakers are particularly concerned with the spike in use of e-cigarettes by young people. According to Vermont’s 2019 Youth Risky Behavior Survey, more than 25% of Vermont high school students use some kind of tobacco product, prompting the state to introduce new regulations intended to reducing vaping among teens. Some these measures, brought into effect in 2019, include raising the require age for purchasing tobacco related products to 21, as well as adding a 92% tax on such products, and banning online sales altogether.
Prior to the death of the 15 year-old boy from Texas, a 17 year-old from the Bronx in New York was the first teen to die from complications related to e-cigarette use, according to the New York Times.
While it appears that campaigns drawing awareness to the hazards of e-cigarettes appear to be having a positive impact, the danger persists. In a report from earlier this year, the CD said: “Although the number of reported cases appears to be declining, states are still reporting new hospitalized EVALI cases to CDC on a weekly basis and should remain vigilant with EVALI case finding and reporting.”