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Trump Announces U.S. Vaping Ban

Eoin Weldon
vaping ban from President Trump speaking at rally

President calls for nationwide ban on flavored e-cigarettes due to recent deaths and illnesses.

Following an outbreak of vaping related deaths and illnesses, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday, September 11th, that his administration will ban flavored e-cigarettes. The move comes after six vape-related deaths and four hundred and fifty cases of vape-related lung illness, across thirty-three states, in less than a month. This would includes a ban on both cannabis and nicotine-based vaping products although it is currently unknown which substances are causing the deaths. Worryingly, the average age of the four hundred and fifty affected by the lung illnesses was nineteen. Is a vaping ban necessary?
During a White House appearance President Trump said: “They (vape companies) have become very rich companies very fast. The whole thing with vaping is it’s very profitable. And I want companies, you know that, I fight for our companies very hard. I viewed it as jobs, income for our country and jobs. But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected.”
trump, who recently instituted a vaping ban

How The Vaping Ban Came About

The White House announcement comes after a report by the Centre for Disease Control on August 23 (2019), saying that first U.S. death linked to e-cigarettes had occurred in the state of Illinois. The cause of that death was determined to be severe lung disease. The CDC subsequently issued a warning about the dangers of vaping cannabis or nicotine-based e-liquids.
Fast forward two weeks to September 6th, and a damning update from the CDC drops. This time the CDC confirms that — according to the public health agency — a mystery vaping illness has claimed the lives of five more people and that an additional four hundred and fifty people have been affected. It seems that San Francisco was ahead of their time when it became the first U.S. city to ban the sale of e-cigarettes. More recently, Michigan followed suit and upped the stakes by becoming the first state to ban the sale of vape devices.

What Is Vape Oil and Vaping?

Vaping devices can come in all shapes and sizes, but tend to be pocket-sized and inconspicuous which is probably why they appeal to teenagers. These operate by heating and aerosolizing a liquid, which the consumer then inhales. Vaping also goes by the names e-cigarettes, vapes, and a variety of brand names, but heating and aerosolizing a vape oil product is involved with each.

Where vapes differ is in the product you are aerosolizing. Certain devices only allow you to inhale the taste of an aerosolizing product. These devices are used to help with cigarette addiction or to compete in vape competitions. Other devices include nicotine or cannabis where the vape liquid contains either nicotine or a cannabinoid for aerosolizing and inhalation

Vaping cannabis e-liquid has quickly become one of the most popular and trendy ways to consume THC and CBD. Many view this method as a safer alternative to smoking cannabis or tobacco, depending on your reason for using the devices. There were even detailed studies to prove it back in 2017. However, this perception is all about to change. According to U.S Health Secretary Alex Azar — who flanked President Trump at the White House Wednesday — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will draw up a plan to remove all non-tobacco flavors of nicotine and cannabis vape oils off the market over the coming weeks. Mr Azar added that tobacco-flavored vape products would also need to be approved by the FDA at a future date.
cloud of vapor

Cause of “Vape Lung” Still Unknown

While vape products may seem like harmless water vapor to many, a variety of substances are present in this liquid. Since these substances are largely unknown, consumers may be inhaling a dangerous array of solvents and flavorings alongside their normal dose of nicotine or cannabis. It is the content of these solvents and flavorings that is being called into question. Ban or no ban they will inevitably go under the microscope to determine what exactly is causing these deaths.
Early reports suggested a link to Vitamin E acetate as the cause of what is being labeled “vape lung.” This vitamin complex byproduct is formed during the vaporization process. Furthermore, the move to ban vaping devices shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when you consider this 2019 study. Evidence gleaned from this research suggests that over 7000 vape flavorings showed evidence of inducing cellular and tissue damage.
“Based on the clinical and laboratory evidence to date, we believe that a chemical exposure is likely associated with these illnesses,” read a statement by the CDC’s incident manager Dana Meaney Delman. “However, and I really want to stress this, more information is needed to determine which specific products or substances are involved,” Delman added.

Diacetyl – Cause of Popcorn Lung – Under Suspicion 

Another possible suspect is a vape flavoring called diacetyl or 2,3-butanedione. A flavoring additive, diacetyl is used to give a butter-like taste and is often present in a range of vape flavors, including cherry and custard. It’s astonishing that this flavoring is even allowed on the market when you consider its dark past and potential to cause lung diseases. Diacetyl first came to the public’s attention in 2000, when former workers of a microwave popcorn factory developed bronchiolitis obliterans after long-term exposure to the chemical. Bronchiolitis obliterans is an inflammatory disease that causes complete obstruction of the bronchioles in the lungs. Suffering from what is now called “popcorn lung” an unfortunate quartet of former popcorn factory workers ended up on lung transplant lists.

A 2008 study, investigated this lung disease and their fears were realized. Rodent models displayed adverse effects after inhaling the chemical and the study concluded that diacetyl demonstrates dangerous effects and may be a respiratory hazard.

Is Lipoid Pneumonia Behind Some of These Deaths?

Lipoid pneumonia is a rare condition that occurs when particles of fat enter the lungs. And guess what? Doctors very recently identified a previously unrecognized characteristic of vaping-related respiratory illness: Fatty cells in the lungs of those affected. A pattern emerged across the U.S. in recent months, the lungs of patients with the mystery vaping illness appear to have large immune cells. These cells contained numerous oily droplets, called lipid-laden macrophages.

The findings of a September 2019 study at the University of Utah Health may help doctors to facilitate and expedite a definitive diagnosis. This in turn would speed up the process of finding the right treatment path. It could also help in revealing what this mysterious condition is and how it is killing people.

no smoking or vaping sign

A Bad Case of Deja Vu

Predictably, just like the days of “big tobacco” the companies profiting from the sales of these vape oils are playing dumb. The FDA says one such company — U.S. vape giant Juul — was very recently claiming that their vaporizers are “totally safe” and a “safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.” Of course this statement by California-based Juul was unauthorized, according to the FDA.

The FDA has since issued a warning to Juul about marketing its products to kids. The safety of children and teens appears to be the driving force behind the ban. First lady Melania Trump took to twitter two days prior to the ban to express her concern about the deaths linked to vape oil consumption. This view was mirrored by President Trump who told reporters Wednesday that strong rules would be implemented to protect “innocent children” including his only child with the first lady, youngest son Barron who is thirteen.

What Now? Is Ban the Dawn of a New Vaping Black Market?

So what does the future hold for vape oil devices in the U.S. and in Canada? A public health professor warns that an e-cigarette ban in Canada may create a black market for the product. David Hammond, a University of Waterloo professor believes stricter regulations are a smarter alternative to an outright ban. This strategy, in his opinion, will better curb the surge in popularity of vaping among youth.

juul with stethoscope

“We can’t wish them away, to the extent that we have many, many Canadians using these products. I don’t think pushing those folks outside the legal market makes sense,” said Hammond who is currently researching chronic diseases linked to vaping. “But, there is a lot to be done in terms of how easy it is to access these products,” Hammond concluded. Vaping advocates in Michigan — the first U.S. state to ban vape oil devices — also argue that a ban would only create an unwanted black market for vape-related products.

So Is Vaping Cannabis Okay?

With all the potential dangers around vaping, what does that mean for cannabis consumers wanting to vape cannabinoids like THC or CBD? Well, for starters it looks like vaping THC cannabis cartridges is out. The vape oil cartridges appear to be one of the main suspects at this time.

Using a traditional vaporizer over a vape pen is now key to the safety of one’s vaping. By now we all know that smoking cannabis releases more cannabis-based toxins than traditionally vaping dry cannabis. However liquid-filled pens can introduce even more dangerous toxins to a person’s body.

Let’s be clear though, the vape pens being banned in the U.S. aren’t the same as traditional vaporizers.

cannabis ready to use for vaping, not affected by ban

To use a traditional vaporizer, a person puts ground, dried cannabis into the vaporizer’s chamber. The chamber then heats up enough to release the cannabinoids without combustion taking place. Afterwards a brown, brittle, and decarboxylated version of your cannabis remains. With no recorded deaths linked to it, dry flower vaping is safer than the pens according to the stats.

Consumers of cannabis vape oil must now tread very carefully. So until the ban kicks in and transparency is attained steer clear of THC and CBD cartridges (and any other cartridges for that matter). At least until the FDA and the CDC knows what is causing these deaths and illnesses. Also, at all costs avoid vape products with flavorings, such as diacetyl. So what are the alternatives now that vaping is on the brink of a complete ban in the U.S.? Try traditional vaping with dry flower or go a healthy step further and try cannabis oil or edibles.

Eoin Weldon
Eoin Weldon
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