As news of people getting sick and even dying due to vaping started spreading, there have been many conflicting opinions and heated debates.
We will try to shed some light on the issue.
There’s no doubt that vaping is a fairly new territory. Therefore, we may not know all the potential long-term risks yet. However, there are some things we do know.
Here’s a quick overview of facts related to vaping:
- Vaping is 95% less harmful than consuming cigarettes
- E-cigarettes are two times more effective for helping smokers quit than other nicotine products
- Vaping daily for 3,5 years did not show a significant impact on human health according to a study conducted in Italy
- Second-hand vaping is virtually harmless
- E-cigarette explosions are related to faulty batteries or improper handling
- E-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI) is caused by vaping THC products that contain vitamin E acetate
The truth behind EVALI
EVALI is a newly identified lung disease with numerous cases reported throughout the US in 2019. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, and weight loss. In the most severe cases, the disease can be fatal.
The number of hospitalized EVALI patients is over 2,800, and there were 68 reported deaths.
Certainly, EVALI wasn’t something to be taken lightly.
The US Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looked into these cases and published their results.
All the lung tissue samples taken from patients contained vitamin E acetate. Furthermore, most patients reported using THC-containing e-cigarettes or vaping products. Most of these products came from online dealers, friends, family, or illicit dealers.
The main culprit for EVALI is, therefore, vitamin E acetate. While this synthetic form of vitamin E is safe to ingest, it can have devastating consequences when inhaled. In patients with EVALI, vitamin E acetate was undoubtedly identified as the primary source of lung injury.
Vitamin E acetate in vape products
Before the EVALI outbreak, vitamin E acetate was used to thicken or dilute some THC vaping liquids.
Since the findings were publicized, many companies have eliminated the substance from their products and started listing all the ingredients on product labels.
As people are better informed and less inclined to purchase vape products from unreliable sources, the number of EVALI cases is on a steady decline.
If you do notice vitamin E acetate declared on the product label, do not vape it. If you’re unsure and have obtained a product that wasn’t lab-tested, it’s better to stay on the safe side and avoid using it.
Risks of vaping CBD
Firstly, it’s important to make the distinction between the two cannabis plants, hemp and marijuana. Hemp contains about 20% of cannabinoids (that have numerous therapeutic benefits) and usually less than 0.3% of THC (the psychoactive substance that produces a ‘high’). On the other hand, marijuana contains about 10% cannabinoids (CBD) and over 20% THC.
This is one of the reasons hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% are legal in the US under federal laws. Marijuana-derived products are illegal under federal laws. There may be variations from state to state.
Therefore, using hemp-derived CBD products for vaping is generally considered legal and safe.
Other than EVALI that was caused by vaping THC-containing products, there is no scientific data linking vaping and lung disease.
Further studies need to be conducted, and vape products need to be more strictly controlled and regulated.
The areas that demand further research and deliberation are other compounds found in vape products (e.g., polyethylene glycol, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) such as coconut oil, and numerous flavoring agents). There are also concerns around vaporizing some of these substances, as well as serious concerns about leaking coils.
While the safest bet is to drop the habit completely, the next best option is to use only hemp-derived, lab-tested products obtained from reliable suppliers.
There are no guarantees that vaping CBD is entirely safe in the long run, but we also don’t have evidence to suggest that vaping legal, hemp-derived CBD products causes lung damage.