Health officials have reported more than 2,000 cases of lung injury connected to vaping and e-cigarettes, and at least 39 deaths. Vape-related lung illnesses have included teens, adults and a smaller number of older Americans.
Though the specific causes are still under investigation, people injured by vaping and their families may want to consider suing the vaping industry manufacturers and distributors. If you were harmed, hospitalized, or lost a family member, you can seek financial compensation. Seeger Weiss is considering such a lawsuit on behalf of vaping and e-cigarette users.
Vaping in the U.S.
More than 9 million people use e-cigarettes on a regular basis and more than 3.6 million teens are estimated to “vape.” E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. since 2007 and were originally intended to help wean smokers off tobacco, but in many cases, ended up creating, rather than eradicating, users’ nicotine habit. Many young people who were previously non-smokers are now dependent on nicotine.
E-cigarettes and vaping have been touted as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking and may be more socially acceptable in some situations. Vape pens and e-cigarettes are available in a variety of flavors, including candy and fruit, along with more traditional tobacco or menthol flavors. Critics are concerned about the development of these vape flavors, as these may be among the significant attractions of vaping to young people.
Many brands of vape pens and e-cigarettes have been created in the last few years, but the biggest brand by far is Juul, made by Juul Labs–now partly owned by Altria, the makers of Marlboro and other Philip Morris brand cigarettes. Regulators have warned Juul Labs repeatedly about their marketing activities. Juul is under fire for advertising with colorful ads and videos that make vaping look “fun.” Juul has responded by acting to limit the product’s youth appeal, but regulators believe more could be done. Some states are banning flavored e-cigarettes, but users of vape products have already suffered considerable harm.
In general, e-cigarettes or vapes work in a similar manner. Inside the e-cigarette or vape, flavored e-liquid – which may contain nicotine – is heated and converted into a vapor or mist which can be inhaled. The object of the design was for vaping to look and feel like smoking, with no flame or burning required.
Vaping Lung Injuries
Substances that are safe to eat or apply to the skin are not necessarily safe to inhale, particularly if heated. Adding substances like Vitamin E acetate or flavorings can increase the risk posed to the lungs.
CDC officials stated in a September 6, 2019 news conference that they have not yet found definitive causes for the recent increase in lung illnesses and deaths. Federal health officials are recommending that people stop using e-cigarettes, noting that using the products may be particularly harmful to teens, young adults, and pregnant women.
The New York State Department of Health is investigating high levels of Vitamin E acetate as a possible cause. Vitamin E acetate is a dietary supplement intended to be used topically or orally. Vitamin E acetate can be toxic if inhaled, and it has been found in some vape products that also contain cannabis.
Officials state that this is only one avenue of study and that it is too early to firmly determine the cause. The FDA is testing more than 120 products for a range of chemicals, including nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), pesticides and opioids amongst others. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana, or cannabis. The tests so far have indicated only that no one single substance or compound has been found in all samples.
Types of Illness Related to Vaping
There may be many lung illnesses related to vaping.
Of 53 cases reported in Wisconsin and Illinois, about one-third of people afflicted after vaping needed ventilator support. Most of these patients were male and under 18. About 60 percent had used a vape containing nicotine, 80 percent had used THC, and half reported that they had used both. Officials have not determined whether the pattern holds across all illnesses.
Reports have stated that one vaping-related illness is a non-infectious type of pneumonia. In fact, vape lung injury may cause multiple types of pneumonia including:
- Acute eosinophilic pneumonia, which is caused by a buildup of white blood cells in the lungs due to inflammatory or immune response;
- Lipoid pneumonia which is caused by inhaling vapor containing fat or oil that then collects in the lungs;
- Bacterial pneumonia due to severe respiratory infection.
Patients or health professionals have also reported cases of “blistered lung.” When severe, pneumonia or lung injury may lead to lung collapse or respiratory failure and require the patient to be placed in a medically induced coma and/or on life support. In at least six cases, patients have died due to their lung injury.
Vape-related Lung Injury Lawsuits
The FDA is authorized to regulate e-cigarettes, but pushback from the industry has led to the delay of new regulations. At the same time, manufacturers have taken advantage of lack of regulations, and introduced many new products that contain nicotine or in some areas, THC.
Even though some states have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, allowing for THC oil sales, THC remains illegal in most forms under federal law. Little research has been done about the effects of THC when vaped.
For those who have already suffered lung injury due to vaping, medical costs and other expenses may be high. People or loved ones of those who were diagnosed with a lung injury, required hospitalization, were placed on a ventilator or who died due to e-cigarette use or vaping, should seek legal advice.
If you or a loved one has experienced a respiratory or lung illness, you may be eligible for compensation in future legal action. Contact Seeger Weiss for a free consultation.
- As Deaths Related To Mysterious Vaping-Linked Lung Illness Continue To Climb, Here’s What You Need To Know, Kaiser Health News (09/2019)
- As Vaping Lung Injuries Grow, Doctors Seek Answers, WebMD (08/2019)