E-Cigarettes, known by many different names, including “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” and “vape pens”, were first introduced into the market in 2007. Since then, e-cigarettes have grown to a more than 2-billion-dollar market.
One particular company, JUUL Labs, Inc., marketed their product in the shape of a USB flash drive and experienced a 600% increase in sales from 2016-2017 giving it the largest market share of any e-cigarette in the United States.
JUUL is particularly popular amongst youth and teenagers given that it can be easily concealed and has reduced odor and exhaled aerosol. Furthermore, there are many flavorings and flavoring combinations that are marketed to appeal to youth and teenagers, and a recent report by a U.S. House Subcommittee found that JUUL spent more than $200,000 sponsoring programs in schools and recruiting online influencers. On September 9, 2019, the FDA warned JUUL labs for marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products to youth. See the links below for more information.
While initially marketed as a safer or health alternative to traditional cigarettes, a typical JUUL cartridge contains about as much nicotine as 20 regular cigarettes. The cartridge also contains nicotine salts, which allow higher levels of nicotine to be more easily inhaled. Recent studies have confirmed that marketing claim to be false.
Tellingly, JUUL CEO Kevin Burns in an interview on CBS This Morning told people:
- “Don’t Vape. Don’t use JUUL.”
- “Don’t start using nicotine if you don’t have a preexisting relationship with nicotine. Don’t use the product. You’re not our target consumer.”
ITS NOT JUST NICOTINE THAT’S HARMFUL
However, it is just not the higher nicotine concentration that puts people at risk of severe health issues, the e-cigarettes and the flavorings also contain heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and chemicals, diacetyl (known to cause popcorn lung), diacetyl substitutes, and other ultrafine particles that penetrate deeply into the lungs. Another recent study demonstrates that even without nicotine, e-cigarettes have been shown to be harmful to vascular function.
News reports continue severe health issues and hospitalizations following vaping, including in the Metro East, Wisconsin, throughout the Midwest, Connecticut, and across the United States. In response to this growing epidemic, the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FDA (FDA) announced in August 2019 that they were investigating a growing number of severe lung disease cases related to vaping. Shortly thereafter, on August 30, 2019, the CDC Health Alert Network distributed an alert to emergency health professionals that severe pulmonary diseases are associated with using e-cigarette products.
THE MOUNTING EVIDENCE
In addition to the studies discussed above, there is mounting evidence of the dangers from the use of e-cigarettes and vaping. A mouse study released on September 4, 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation by Baylor researchers found that even without nicotine, inhaling the e-cigarette vapor the lungs’ ability to fight infections and disrupted chemicals that keep the airsacs from collapsing.
In 2015, a study was released indicating an association between e-cigarette use and myocardial infarction (a heart attack). In October 2019, the authors of that study went back and reanalyzed some additional data collected at the time and found that the new evidence demonstrated an even stronger association between e-cigarette use and heart attack than originally determined. Similarly, in response to JUUL’s claims that e-cigarettes are less hazardous than traditional cigarettes, another study concluded aerosol from JUUL and previous generation e-cigs impairs endothelial function in rats, comparable to impairment by cigarette smoke. The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels.