Lung Disease Outbreak Caused by Black Market, not Vaping

During the past month, news stories around the world have reported on a sudden outbreak of lung illnesses supposedly linked to vaping. In the United States, federal and local authorities haven’t yet identified what is behind the illnesses, but the news media has already made its diagnosis. Headlines insinuate that vaping is to blame, fueling fears about the dangers of e-cigarettes. It’s fake news.

Vaping is a delivery system (usually for nicotine), like food is a calorie-delivery system and drugs are a drug-delivery system. When there are outbreaks of E. coli, headlines rarely read, “E. coli outbreak linked to food,” because the relevant fact is not that food caused the illness, but which foods are infected with the E. coli bacterium. Stories about tainted drugs do not merely state that ill-effects were “drug-linked” because people usually want to know which drugs caused the problems. Similarly, in these cases of “vaping-linked” lung disorders, the most important factor is not that the victims were vaping, but rather what they were vaping that caused them to fall ill. While details have not been made public for all of those hospitalized, in every case where a product has been identified, the culprit was not “vaping,” but vaping illicit THC oil.

It started in July when the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin made a public announcement about eight teenagers who had been admitted with severe lung disorders. (It is likely that the outbreak of acute lung disorders linked to THC oil began earlier, but the media didn’t pick up on it until July.)  Hospital officials, while not identifying an exact cause, noted that many of the patients reported vaping nicotine and THC prior to admission. Since then, 153 people have been hospitalized with a variety of serious lung disorders after reporting a history of “vaping.”

News media around the world have picked up on the story of “vaping-linked” hospitalizations. Most have omitted the fact that black market marijuana e-liquid has been identified as the culprit in some of these cases, while not a single case has been linked to nicotine-only e-cigarettes. Interestingly, most of those falling ill are in states where marijuana for recreational use is only available through the black market…

….read more at Competitive Enterprise Institute


…As the current outbreak demonstrates, when the legal market fails to supply people with the products they want at the prices they want, illegal purveyors are always happy to step in. We have seen this before with alcohol, drugs, and now with vaporized marijuana. Even with nicotine e-cigarettes, still legal in most of the U.S., an underground market has emerged to supply consumers with the flavors that have been removed from the legal market.

Bans don’t protect people—they only force them into the black market, which has no oversight and no precautions against tainted products. As access to legal e-cigarettes declines, consumers will increasingly rely on illicit street vapes and “bathtub” e-liquids. As a result, more will end up sick and more will die. These deaths, whether due to adulterated black market vapes or simply because people return to smoking, will be on anti-tobacco activists’ heads.

….read more at Competitive Enterprise Institute

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