Don’t use vapes containing THC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Friday as it continues to investigate a recent epidemic of a mysterious lung disease that seems connected to vaping. Any vaping products purchased from illicit or unknown sources should also be avoided, the FDA said, which honestly is just a good rule of thumb for most drugs amid a burgeoning health crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified over a thousand cases of vaping-associated pulmonary illness to date, resulting in 18 deaths. Twelve of these deaths have been tied to THC specifically according to a report the CDC released last week. Of those affected, most are under the age of 35, and 70 percent have been men, though there are more recorded deaths among women.
While the exact cause of the disease remains unknown, federal investigators have linked 78 percent of cases to THC vaping devices. Another recent lab test also found toxic additives in black market THC cartridges. In addition to avoiding vapes containing THC, the FDA warned against adding THC or other oils to vaping products Friday and reiterated that pregnant women and adolescents shouldn’t be vaping at all, with THC or otherwise.
“More information is needed to better understand whether there is a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses,” the FDA writes. “To help gather and analyze as much information as possible, the FDA is working closely with federal and state partners to identify the products or substances that may be causing the illnesses.”
State governments have already begun taking precautionary measures in the last few weeks, this new outbreak only further aggravating widespread concerns that advertising for potentially addicting vaping products is targeting teenagers. New York and Michigan have banned the flavored nicotine vapes popular among teens (Juul, one of the most notorious e-cigarette giants accused of catering to this demographic, has also put a stop to all print, digital, and broadcast advertising in the wake of this health crisis). The governor of Massachusetts went one step even further, instating a four-month ban on all vaping products.