According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 82 percent of patients hospitalized for EVALI admitted to using THC-containing products at least part of the time. 34 percent reported exclusive use of cannabis-based cartridges.

However, the most alarming statistic indicates that about 78 percent of all patients purchased their products from “informal sources” – defined by the CDC as friends, family members, in-person dealers, or questionable online sources.  16 percent claim to have acquired their toxic cartridges from pop-up shops, recreational or medical marijuana dispensaries, or traditional vape or smoke shops.

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The discovery of this data has led the CDC to issue a new press release warning the American vaping community to avoid these sorts of retail venues for the purchasing of vaping products.  The press release was also issued by tweet yesterday afternoon stating, “CDC recommends that you should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources. Data suggest these products play a major role in the current lung injury outbreak. Learn more: http://cdc.gov/lunginjury. “

The CDC statistics and resulting public warning appear to be derived from an internal study also published on January 14, 2020.  The study is entitled Update: Product, Substance-Use, and Demographic Characteristics of Hospitalized Patients in a Nationwide Outbreak of E-cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use–Associated Lung Injury — United States, August 2019–January 2020.

The conclusions of the internal research make clear that the prevailing opinion of CDC officials -specifically that THC-infused cartridges rather than traditional nicotine-based vapes are responsible for the mysterious, so called “vaping related” lung disorder first appearing in patients from Wisconsin earlier this summer.  The study also acknowledges that while the majority of EVALI patients admitted to purchasing their THC products from “informal sources,” they also admitted to purchasing their nicotine-based vapes from legal, commercial retailers.

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Sadly, the average age of the estimated 2,602 patients falls between 13-17 years – an age range which is clearly illegal to purchase or consume vapes of any kind whatsoever.  An excerpt from the CDC study states the following.

“Nationwide, most EVALI patients with data on product source reported acquiring THC-containing products from only informal sources, whereas most nicotine-containing products were acquired from commercial sources. EVALI patients aged 13–17 years were more likely to acquire both THC- and nicotine-containing products from informal sources than were adults.”

The CDC also notes that a significant percentage of the contraband THC cartridges used by EVALI patients contained vitamin E acetate – a substance sometimes used to dilute the THC oil so that it can be comfortably vaped.  However, the CDC is also concerned that other dilutive chemicals other than vitamin E acetate may also be linked to the potentially deadly respiratory disorder.

For this reason, the CDC is still issuing the very generic public warning “to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products.” Nicotine-based vapes – if the CDC statement is to be believed – are not yet officially off the hook.

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