Since the last weekend in August, there have been increasing reports in the media about unexplained lung and respiratory diseases in the United States of America. Since many of those affected are users of e-cigarettes, some of the reports establish a connection between the use of regular e-cigarettes and the occurrence of the disease. In this blog post you can find out what is reported, how the situation in Germany is and, above all, what the reliable facts about e-cigarettes are!
Media reporting works online and offline according to a certain principle: A headline arouses the interest of the reader. Further down in the text he learns what really happened and what is known about it for sure. The problem: Not everyone who notices a headline while walking past or clicking through it then reads the corresponding article to the end. With an opener like “You smoked e-cigarettes and fell ill” the reader may keep in mind that e-cigarettes are problematic and hazardous to health.
The fact is: According to a study by the British health authority Public Health England from March 2018, e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than classic tobacco cigarettes.
In the German media, too, there is talk of 500 to 600 different devices on the regular market and an uncontrolled black market for the purchase of liquids. The idea suggested here is that large numbers of e-cigarette products are entering the market unregulated. Whether this situation applies to the United States of America or not, it cannot be transferred to Germany and the European Union.
The fact is: All e-cigarette products on the market in Germany and the entire European Union are clearly regulated in accordance with the EU-wide Tobacco Products Directive. Ingredients in liquids that are harmful to health are prohibited. In addition, e-cigarette products are submitted to the EU authorities for testing six months before they are placed on the market, together with emission tests, in order to rule out risks.
Most of the articles reviewed here consistently report that the now ill individuals vaporized liquids containing the psychoactive cannabinoid substance THC. Solutions containing THC are legal in some states in the US, but not in others. They are generally forbidden in Germany. However, a connection between the THC, which is legal in California, for example, and the symptoms described cannot be scientifically proven. It is therefore assumed that the persons concerned acquired THC-containing liquids on the black market. Highly toxic oils and vitamin E acetate were found in these substances when inhaled.A warning was issued by Edward D. Hill of the Department of Public Health, County of Kings, California.
The fact is: According to the German law on tobacco products and related products (TabakerzG), apart from nicotine, only ingredients that pose no risk to human health in heated and unheated form may be used in the liquid to be vaporized in e-cigarettes.
Related Read:The 6 Most Asked Questions About Vaping
In the media discourse, the term e-cigarette is used in general and in a general way, regardless of the topic. There are now a large number of models with a wide variety of designs, performance and protective functions. More decisive than the technical features of a device, however, is which substances are consumed with it. E-cigarettes are specially produced for use with liquids that are explicitly suitable for this purpose. The devices are neither intended nor designed for the vaporization of oils or other substances.
The fact is: In none of the cases reported from the USA could the use of a regular e-cigarette be proven to be the cause of the symptoms of the disease. The vast majority of those affected admitted to using illegally acquired drugs (e-joints).
You can read, for example on focus.de, text passages in which it is suggested that after the first cases in the USA became known, a large number of comparable cases from other parts of the world could possibly be reported. This reads as if the e-cigarette were a completely unknown product, which has only recently become available in a few regions and not the slightest thing is known about its use and the resulting effects.
The fact is: For more than 15 years, e-cigarettes have been used by millions of people in many countries around the world without comparable cases of illness being known to date.
Initially, there were many reports of “puzzling” (Southern German), “dubious” (Welt) or “unknown” (Spiegel) lung diseases. The fact that the causes of the diseases are “not yet proven” was also mentioned by focus.de in the article from August 23, 2019. The American health authority CDC announced at the time that “so far no specific product has been found that is associated with all diseases”. Meanwhile, illegal black market liquids have been investigated. Pesticides, vitamin E acetate and a fungicide were detected in the samples.
The fact is: American doctors and scientists have not yet found a conclusive explanation for the sudden occurrence of the diseases described. However, according to NBC News, the likely trigger is vitamin E acetate. The German specialist magazine aerzteblatt.de also reports in its report of November 11 that there are increasing indications of vitamin E acetate as the trigger. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, a connection between the incidents and regular nicotine-containing liquids cannot be established.
To be fair, it must be said that none of the articles available to us explicitly advise against the use of e-cigarettes. Of course, headlines, subtext and unproven connections in several places suggest that the topic of vaping is difficult, that as an interested tobacco switcher you have to be unsure which devices and accessories you can get and that it is difficult to get reliable information.
The fact is: Well-founded, competent advice, such as that offered by authorized e-cigarette dealers in Germany, will help you to find the device that is right for you, the liquid that is right for you with the right nicotine strength if you are aiming for a successful tobacco cessation. Many shops offer the opportunity to test devices and liquids on site without obligation. After a short period of getting used to, nothing stands in the way of a smoke-free future with the much less harmful e-cigarette! Both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and the British government agency Public Health England have issued statements urging vapers not to return to using tobacco cigarettes out of fear. In Germany, too, Spiegel Online gets to the point in its article of October 30, 2019: “Apparently, thousands of German vapers are switching back to the tobacco cigarette butt in these weeks – for fear of harming their health. Some will pay for it with their lives.”
Conclusion on the currently occurring cases of lung diseases in the USA
It goes without saying that every single case of a seriously ill person is tragic and regrettable. However, a causal connection between the use of e-cigarettes and the occurrence of the symptoms (proplanta) described as “shortness of breath”, “difficulty breathing”, “chest pain”, “diarrhea” and “vomiting” cannot be established. In fact, neither does any of the cited reports. The sudden, massive occurrence of the corresponding reports, combined with bold headlines such as “collapsed lungs because of e-cigarettes” (Bunte) implies a connection, especially for casual readers, which is not proven by the doctors treating the patients concerned. It is a pity that in this way the less harmful, smoke-free alternative to tobacco cigarettes, which have been proven to be carcinogenic, is once again being cast in a bad light, especially by the general public – be it consciously or for the sake of quick headlines – regardless of the health benefits they have been proven to have adult smokers offers.