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The news is frequently filled with scary and unfortunate situations. And if you’re a vaper, you may have had some extra apprehension before turning on the news recently. There’s been a recent flood of stories about people being hospitalized—some even dying—from mysterious illnesses related to vaping. It might have you wondering, “Am I at risk?”
Whether you vape, know someone who does, or are considering starting to vape, you probably want to know what’s behind these stories. Let’s take a look at some of these vaping-related illnesses and unfortunate deaths that have been reported on recently. This will help you know if and how you should change your current habits.
Vaping has grown dramatically in the last few years. In 2015, vaping among high schoolers grew by 900%, and it’s become very popular with older generations, too. Vapes are being used by both those who are trying to quit smoking and those who have never smoked in their life. There are a lot of attractive features: such as the lack of smoke, the different flavors and nicotine levels available, the sleek and streamlined look of vape pens, and the perception that vaping is less toxic than smoking.
But in the last few months, vaping has suffered a PR crisis. Over 1,000 people have been hospitalized in the United States for vaping related illnesses. The people affected so far have mostly been under the age of 35, including some teenagers. Men have also been more commonly affected than women. So far, cases have been confirmed in every state except Alaska. Even worse, at least 27 people have unfortunately died from these illnesses.
It’s easy to get concerned when you see headlines about vaping-related illnesses or death, especially if you or someone you love vapes. However, it’s important to look deeper into these stories. The news isn’t always as it seems.
People who develop a vaping-related illness exhibit a variety of symptoms such as:
Some of those who have been affected developed symptoms mere weeks after starting to use e-cigarettes. Often, these symptoms lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome. This condition causes fluid to build up in a person’s lungs. Acute respiratory distress syndrome is life-threatening and should not be taken lightly. It will stop oxygen from circulating in your bloodstream.
Although there is still some confusion about what is causing these illnesses, it seems there is a strong link to THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It’s responsible for causing psychoactive effects in marijuana users. The vast majority of patients being treated for vaping-related illnesses had used prefilled vape cartridges that contained THC. Because of this link, if you do vape, it’s best to avoid THC vape juice.
The problem is that certain e-juices that claim to be THC-free actually contain THC. Because of this, you could be vaping THC without knowing it. While there are plenty of reputable companies that manufacture and sell vape products, there are others that are fraudulent and unethical. They’ll pass off their products as THC-free just to turn a profit. For the consumer, this can mean serious or even deadly consequences.
Although there is good reason to believe that THC is at the root of these vaping-related problems, other chemicals could have at least played a role. For example, many of those hospitalized for vaping-related illnesses used e-cigarettes with nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance that can cause a variety of health problems. You can avoid nicotine by choosing nicotine-free e-juices.
It’s important to be picky about where you purchase your vapes. Because some patients with vaping-related illnesses were underage, it’s very possible they illegally purchased their vapes on the streets. However, vape cartridges don’t just come from illicit street deals, they come from online stores, or local shops too.
You can even find counterfeit vape cartridges being sold at businesses that do more than just sell vapes and e-juices. For example, counterfeit JUUL pods were recently discovered at a convenience store in Indiana. The people who bought these vapes had no idea they were purchasing potentially harmful products. They thought they were purchasing genuine JUUL vapes.
Fortunately, the convenience store was cited for public nuisance as well as selling vape juice that came from an unauthorized source. But this is just one retail establishment. There could be many others selling harmful products to unsuspecting patrons. Some of these counterfeit products could end up causing vaping-related illnesses.
So you know that counterfeit vaping products exist and that they can cause a lot of problems. But how do you avoid them? First of all, it’s important to research vape companies before you make a purchase. The best vape companies will have been around for a while and earned a good reputation with consumers. Read reviews and talk to fellow vape users if you can.
When purchasing any vaping products, it’s important to examine the vape itself as well as any vaping modifications or e-juices you purchase. Some signs of counterfeiting may be somewhat obvious. For example, you may notice some misspelled words or cheap packaging. Make sure to thoroughly read the labels of your vape cartridges. Check the percentages of ingredients of the liquid composition. In a real vape where the true ingredients match the packaging, all the percentages should add up to 100. If they don’t, they could be fake.
Whenever any kind of illness is on the rise, it’s important to be cautious. But you should also make sure to gather all the facts before you drastically alter your life in any way. The next time you see a news story about vaping, do a little research. It may not be what you think!