Photo: For the AJC/ File photo
Photo: For the AJC/ File photo

Feds say vaping injuries no longer spiraling

After an alarming spike last summer, the rise in the number of vaping-related deaths and injuries has slowed so much that the federal government will stop updating the public on the count.

As of Feb. 18, there had been 2,807 hospitalizations and 68 deaths, tied to e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the continued decline in new cases since September was one reason that led to its decision to cease the updates.

The other reason: the identification of an additive to vaping liquid as “a primary cause” of the illnesses. That additive, vitamin E acetate, has been associated with THC-containing e-cigarette and vaping products. THC is the chemical in marijuana that delivers a high.

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Vitamin E acetate is “strongly linked” to the outbreak, the CDC said, adding, however, that the evidence is insufficient for ruling out other chemicals, including those in non-THC products.

Many doctors worry about the potential harm of vaping, since it is relatively new and there hasn’t been much research. The American Medical Association has called for a moratorium on sales.

Vaping proponents say the product helped them kick smoking, a known killer.

Many, though, are concerned about the steep rise in the number of juveniles who are vaping. According to the CDC, 28% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette or vape within 30 days of a 2019 survey, while 6% of high school students reported smoking cigarettes in the same time frame.

Massachusetts last year became the first state to ban the sale of flavored products, which are popular with juveniles. The federal government is implementing a ban, too, though some say it has too many loopholes.

Georgia lawmakers are considering curbs, as well. Proposals include raising the age restrictions on sales and possession to 21 from 18, and a tax on sales.

CDC said there has been “a gradual, but persistent decline” in the number of new cases since September, attributing the drop to greater public awareness of the THC-associated risks, removal of vitamin E acetate from some products and law enforcement against illicit products.

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