Vaping crisis nears 1,500 cases, Juul pulls some e-cig flavors
A new update on the ongoing vaping crisis in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed nearly 1,500 confirmed and probable lung injury cases have now been identified, with 33 confirmed deaths. Alongside this news, Juul, the country’s largest e-cigarette company, announced it is suspending sales of four popular flavors pending FDA review.
The latest CDC update on the crisis notes there are currently 1,479 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products spanning every state in the US except Alaska. Consistent with prior announcements, there still is no single unifying factor linking all the confirmed cases.
The CDC report details 849 patients offering information on specific substances used in e-cigarette devices. Around 78 percent report use of THC-containing oils, but 10 percent of cases report exclusive use of nicotine products. While the median age of patients suffering from the condition is 23 years old, the median age of the deceased patients is 44 years old.
Laboratory testing of e-cig products is still ongoing, as is further pathological testing of biopsy samples from patients. While the CDC does reiterate that no singular product has been identified as the source of the outbreak, the majority of cases so far seem to be linked to illicit THC products.
“The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak,” the CDC notes in a new statement. “As such, we recommend that you should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC.”
Following a prospective ban on flavored e-cigarette products containing nicotine, floated by Trump and the Whitehouse several weeks ago, vaping giant Juul unexpectedly announced it was pulling several of its flavored products from the US market. Juul accounts for the vast majority of e-cigarette sales in the US and is currently under investigation in several states for misleading advertising and promotions targeting teenagers.
Kevin Burns stepped down from his CEO position at Juul soon after the US government’s announcement targeting flavored e-cigarettes in September. K.C. Crosthwaite promptly took over position as CEO of Juul. Crosthwaite was previously chief growth officer for Altria, one of the world’s largest tobacco corporations.
The latest announcement from Juul is part of a company-wide review being led by Crosthwaite. As well as suspending the sale of Mango, Creme, Fruit, and Cucumber e-cigarette flavors, the company is ceasing all political lobbying, plus all broadcast, print and digital advertising. Crosthwaite suggests this pre-emptive action by the company is designed to help regain the trust of society in his company’s e-cigarette products.
“We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers,” says Crosthwaite.