It's been a rough week for vaping and one that will likely haunt this industry for a long time. The number of cases of lung disease linked to vaping in the US has been steadily rising, and late last week the one of these individuals died. Now while this is tragic, the media is using it as a way to say "vaping kills", which is unfair and irresponsible - especially in light of the fact that besides being linked to vaping, they still do not know what exactly is causing this. Let's take a look at what's going on.
Mystery vaping related lung illness in the US
192 cases of lung illnesses in 22 states have been identified in the US so far. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is linking it to vaping because seemingly that's the only common thread among these individuals.
Somewhere between Wednesday and Friday the first (and only) of these sufferers died. These are the facts.
Inhaling anything other than oxygen is risky. People have died from inhaling various toxic substances normally, without vaping. These are also facts.
So we should stop vaping, shouldn't we?
While vaping has been directly linked to this current issue, there are a few reasons to not freak out.
First, vaping has been around for about a decade and millions of people have been vaping for years without any issues. In the case of ex-smokers, these people have mostly reported life changing health benefits, if purely from an empirical point of view. Ex-smokers who switch to vaping almost unanimously state that they feel healthier. This might not be "proof" of anything - but feeling healthier is quite a leap considering we know smoking kills.
Second, even in the food, pharmaceutical, and other industries sometimes things go wrong and people get sick or die from approved products.
And lastly, in the US there are an estimated 10 million vapers, which means that 0.00002% (200 out of 10 million) vapers are currently affected - now that number may rise, but it's highly unlikely to even reach 0.1%. Those are good odds for a smoker, as smoking has been found to kill over 60% of users.
Despite what the media tells us, vaping was always intended as harm reduction - a healthier alternative for smokers. As this, even in light of these recent lung illnesses, it is still the best option for a smoker who is unable to just stop smoking.
The link to vaping and the "black market"
While all of the current cases involve people who have vaped, currently it is not know exactly what they've been vaping. This is an important point, as inhaling toxic substance will obviously cause problems with your lungs, and if these people have been (as suspected by some) vaping so called "black market" products, they could be inhaling any number of toxic substances.
As a general rule, those who manufacture vaping liquids are not trying to harm anyone (quite the opposite) and take all the precautions needed in order to deliver a safe product. This involves using USP/BP grade and/or safety tested ingredients, storing these components in a safe way to ensure they don't go off, and manufacturing in a "clean room" environment to avoid contaminants. We've been doing it for years and, as a result, our products have been safe to use. We use them ourselves.
Those who make vaping liquids for the black market however may not take these kinds of precautions, and any number of contaminants could be introduced into the liquids. The same could be said for an informal street vendor selling food - they are not checked and the food they provide might contain harmful substances.
Well, do we stop vaping or not?
To vape or not to vape is, of course, entirely up to each person to decide for themselves. Is there a risk? Of course there is, with every product we consume today there is some risk involved. "Approved products" might reduce the risk but ultimately nothing is risk free.
Tragic as this latest issue in the US is, there is simply not enough known at the moment to say that normal vaping, as we've done without issue for years, is suddenly dangerous.
In the end, I'll take the potentially dangerous habit of vaping over the known death rate of smoking any day of the week. You'll have to choose for yourself.
Below are some links to the articles covering this, feel free to read them and make up your own mind.