Vaping illnesses coming from black-market products

By Aaron Rice
September 26, 2019

Black-market vaping products that have foreign substances added to them can be very dangerous. That’s obvious. But the calls for bans on vaping devices and why people are becoming sick are two different things. Unfortunately, they are being lumped together.

We know there has been an outbreak of sorts related to vaping. According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, 530 people have been hospitalized with what is now known as Vaping Associated Pulmonary Illness, or VAPI. Three cases have been reported in Mississippi. Nine deaths have been reported nationally.  

This has led to the initial reaction that we have seen among some officials who have called for a ban on vaping devices, or at least the flavored products that most users prefer. Unilaterally, governors in New York and Michigan have done just that. 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Hood has also called for a ban on vaping devices. His Republican opponent, Tate Reeves, has taken a more nuanced approach.

But the illnesses and deaths do not appear to be from products sold legally at vape shops. 

study in the New England Journal of Medicine found 84 percent of those hospitalized in Illinois and Wisconsin reported using vaping or e-cigarette devices to consume substances purchased illegally on the black market.

Typical black-market substances include THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, cannabis wax and oil, and Vitamin E.

In a release earlier this month, the FDA noted a similar finding, stating, “Many of the samples tested by the states or by the FDA as part of this ongoing investigation have been identified as vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, a psychoactive component of the marijuana plant) and further, most of those samples with THC tested also contained significant amounts of Vitamin E acetate.”

They, rightfully, warned consumers to avoid black-market vaping products and to not add any substances to the products purchased in stores. 

As the early reports show, black-market products are already the problem. If we proceed to outlaw vaping or e-cigarettes, it will only create a larger black market. And likely more illnesses and deaths. 


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