04.20.2020

The Latest On E-Cigarettes

In December 2019, Congress banned the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to anyone under age 21. This legislative action was a response to the high use of e-cigarettes, especially those flavored products, by teenagers and young adults, as well as the high number of cases diagnosed as product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Many argued that the current ban was not enough and that all flavored e-cigarettes should be banned from public sale. At the end of February 2020, the House, aiming at youth vaping and tobacco use, voted to ban the sale of flavored cigarettes and e-cigarette liquids

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include the following findings:

  • CDC is only reporting hospitalized EVALI cases and EVALI deaths of whether the patient was hospitalized. The CDC has removed nonhospitalized cases from previously reported case tabulations as of December 3, 2019.
  • A total of 2,807 hospitalized e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) cases or deaths have been reported to the CDC from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of December 3, 2019.
  • Sixty-eight deaths have been confirmed in 29 states and the District of Columbia as of February 18, 2020:
    • Alabama, California (4), Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (2), Georgia (6), Illinois (5), Indiana (6), Kansas (2), Kentucky, Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (5), Michigan (3), Minnesota (3), Mississippi, Missouri (2), Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York (4), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee (2), Texas (4), Utah, Virginia and Washington (2).
    • The median age of deceased patients was 49.5 years and ranged from 15-75 years.
  • Among the 2,668 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths reported to the CDC as of January 14, 2020):
    • 66% were male
    • The median age of patients was 24 years and ranged from 13–85 years.
    • By age group category:
      • 15% of patients were under 18 years old;
      • 37% of patients were 18 to 24 years old;
      • 24% of patients were 25 to 34 years old; and
      • 24% of patients were 35 years or older.
  • 2,022 hospitalized patients had data on substance use, of whom, as of January 14, 2020):
    • 82% reported using THC-containing products; 33% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.
    • 57% reported using nicotine-containing products; 14% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.
  • 50% of EVALI patients who reported using THC-containing products provided data on product source (as of January 7, 2020):
    • 16% reported acquiring products only from commercial sources (recreational and/or medical dispensaries, vape or smoke shops, stores, and pop-up shops).
    • 78% reported acquiring products only from informal sources (family/friends, dealers, online, or other sources).
    • 6% reported acquiring products from both commercial and informal sources.
  • 54% of EVALI patients who reported using nicotine-containing products provided data on product source (as of January 7, 2020):
    • 69% reported acquiring products only from commercial sources.
    • 17% reported acquiring products only from informal sources.
    • 15% reported acquiring products from both commercial and informal sources.

In evaluating these numbers, one eye-opening statistic is that approximately 75% of patients were under the age of 35. The median age was 24 years and two out of three hospitalized patients were male. Also, half of the patients who used THC products identified their product source and more than 75% of these sources were informal or non-commercial, suggesting an illegal or black market source.

As Congress struggles to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, the movement to regulate e-cigarettes has stalled in Congress, but only to some extent. Pennsylvania currently has experienced between 100 and 149 hospitalized cases or deaths, which puts it in the upper half of the states affected by EVALI.  

The proposed legislation would require the Food and Drug Administration to place colored graphics on cigarette cartons depicting the health effects of smoking. Nearly one in three high school students has reported using a tobacco product recently, according to a federal survey released in October 2019. The study found that, for the sixth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the dominant choice of students.

The CDC, with information from a study conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, has found:

  • The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
  • Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and may harm adolescent brain development as it continues into the early to mid-20s.
  • E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine. Currently, the FDA does not regulate the ingredients of e-cigarettes.
  • Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
  • In addition to lung-related injuries and the potential dangers posed by nicotine to adolescents, e-cigarette battery malfunctions and failures may result in explosions and burn injuries.

If you or your child has experienced negative effects from vaping any brand of e-cigarettes, Powell Law is experienced in litigating product liability claims. Powell Law has an established 115-year-old reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania for protecting the rights of those injured by defective products. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!

The Latest On E-Cigarettes

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