Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were initially marketed as a safe alternative to smoking. We are now learning that was a lie. While the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use (“vaping”) is unclear, there are an increasing number of cases to suggest that vaping causes a whole host of life-threatening conditions, including pulmonary and gastrointestinal problems, “popcorn lung,” and even death.
Indeed, just as the cigarette epidemic seemed to becoming under control, e-cigarettes (or vaping) appear on the brink of causing a new epidemic. And just like with big tobacco — teenagers are a primary target of vaping manufacturers through the industry’s sleek marketing, advertising, and product design.
This week, Illinois became the latest state to file a lawsuit against the nation’s largest e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul Labs, inc. The lawsuit brought by Attorney General Kwame Raoul alleges that Juul used deceptive marketing practices to intentionally market to minors, and also misrepresented the amount of nicotine in its products.
An outbreak of vaping-related illnesses has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including severe respiratory symptoms and pulmonary conditions after reported vaping or e-cigarette use. Common symptoms include:
- Difficulty Breathing;
- Shortness of Breath;
- Chest Pain;
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea;
- Fever or fatigue
The CDC reports that as of December 2019, there have been nearly 2,500 people hospitalized for lung-related injuries due to use of e-cigarettes or vaping. Furthermore, 52 people have died from e-cigarette use nationwide.
Notably, a large number of these cases involve the use of vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of marijuana.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) along with the CDC is investigating the cause(s) of the lung injuries in these cases, and to date has not definitively identified the cause. However, the FDA has found the presence of vitamin E acetate as a diluent in the majority of the lung fluid samples tested from those suffering injuries.
Clearly, more investigation must be done to analyze any additional harmful chemicals in e-cigarette liquids, the vapor emitted from vaping devices, and from tissue samples of those suffering vaping-related lung injuries.
Vaping-Associated Popcorn Lung?
Popcorn lung is a life-threatening and permanent condition in which the lungs become scarred and inflamed, affecting the bronchioles or tiny airways in the lungs. The medical term for this condition is bronchiolitis obliterans. The term, popcorn lung, originates from when microwave popcorn workers developed the condition after breathing vapor from butter flavoring (diacetyl) added to the popcorn.
There is reason to suspect that the flavoring found in JUUL and other manufacturer’s vaping products may cause popcorn lung as well.
Indeed, the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently reported the case of severe acute bronchiolitis (popcorn lung) associated with vaping, resulting in near-fatal respiratory failure requiring intubation of a 17-year-old boy, who prior to vaping was completely healthy.
Civil Accountability for E-Cigarette Manufacturers
Just like Big Tobacco manufacturers have been held liable for billions of dollars in damages caused by their predatory and deceptive marketing, e-cigarette manufacturers like JUUL are being held accountable in courts for the catastrophic damages caused by vaping-related illnesses.
To discuss a potential case involving popcorn lung, severe pulmonary injuries, or death caused by vaping, call Passen & Powell at 312-527-4500 for a Free Consultation with one of our attorneys.