The recent wave of illnesses related to vaping is a very serious problem, but why is it that only e-cigarettes are being banned or regulated?
People have been smoking e-cigarettes for years, but we’ve never heard reports of any serious cases before like the ones we’re witnessing now. Several hundred people have gotten ill from vaping and some have even died, so what is going on…?
It seems as if there are several issues relating to this growing problem. For one, there are reports of fake cannabis vaping cartridges being sold that are very dangerous. Just like the synthetic cannabis being sold, the cartridges containg fake cannabis are also very dangerous. Some have also had fentanyl or vitamine E added to them, which caused some of the latest cases of vaping related deaths.
The latest changes to cannabis legalization is one of the core issues, because the cannabis market is not that regulated yet. People can now sell CBD products openly everywhere in the US and many other countries, without many regulations.
But it also seems as if other black market products are getting people sick. Even the big mainstream companies are allegedly selling products that are sending people to the hospital or even their grave.
The mainstream media is focussing in on the flavor additives in the e-liquids and with the e-cigarette business being unregulated, it’s easy to conclude that there are products containing unsafe ingredients on the market.
The regular e-cigarettes without the the child friendly flavors will still be allowed to be sold, but if you are to trust the latest science, they have high levels of cancer-causing chemicals, especially in mint and menthol e-cigarettes.
India bans production and import of e-cigarettes
While the vaping liquid used in e-cigarettes does not contain the vast majority of the more harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, it does contain a number of other substances which are harmful to humans.
Chewing tobacco is more prevalent than smoking in India but critics of e-cigarettes have raised concerns that vaping is getting children hooked on nicotine from a younger age and acting as a gateway to tobacco smoking.
The ban is an effort to curb the consumption of tobacco products and their alternatives, but will that strategy actually work?
Making things worse
It was bad enough when public health officials, politicians, and the press reacted to the recent outbreak of respiratory illness among vapers of marijuana by failing to warn the public in a clear manner.
Instead of explaining the specific danger from vaping a certain kind of THC-infused oil, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and politicians like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the public to stop using any kind of electronic cigarette, which is like responding to an outbreak of food poisoning by telling people to stop eating.
What happens if those other flavors get banned?
One consequence would be a black market in flavored liquids—and more risk of unsafe ingredients being added. Another consequence would be an increase in smoking, as Lauren Pacek of the Duke School of Medicine and colleagues reported this summer in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, based on a study of 240 young adults who use e-cigarettes as well as tobacco cigarettes. When asked how they would respond to a ban on flavored nicotine e-cigarettes, the young adults said that they would smoke more tobacco cigarettes.
That’s the same conclusion reached by Wall Street, which reacted to the FDA’s new plan by sending tobacco stocks higher.
Big Tobacco owns the e-cigarette business
What was once a market populated by small independent manufacturers has given way to Big Tobacco.
“This is part of an ongoing strategy in the Big Tobacco playbook,” Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association (ALA), told Healthline back in 2017.
Today, global e-cigarette sales amount to around $5 billion a year.
That compares to the $92 million cigarette market, but the e-cigarette industry is expected to grow 24 percent per year through 2018.
The tobacco industry has been playing with regulators for more than a century—a game that has consistently limited the FDA’s authority, ignored scientific research, and marshalled courts and lawmakers against strong regulation.
And the techniques that protected tobacco in the 1900s, 1960s, and 2000s ultimately led to the unchecked proliferation of under-studied and potentially dangerous new nicotine products now used by millions of people all over the world.
“The cigarette industry has been very good at staving off regulation,” says Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford who has written about the tobacco industry. “Imagine the oddity that for over a century the world’s leading cause of death was entirely unregulated.”