With each Christmas season comes a host of holiday perils. Drunk drivers and increased traffic on the highways and resulting motor vehicle accidents are examples all too common. These and others compound the stress and anxiety we all endure in preparing for the festivities. This year, I would like to focus on a danger that has gained recent notoriety: Electronic Cigarettes, or “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” They go by many other names also, including “e-cigarettes,” “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “vape pens,” “e-pipes” and “e-hookas.”
First patented in 2003, e-cigarettes first went on sale in the United States in 2007. They were billed as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, which by contrast yields tar, smoke and carbon monoxide. The science, however, shows the opposite: that vaping actually promotes the use of, and the addiction to, cigarettes. In fact, high school vapers often become heavy smokers of traditional cigarettes.
Unfortunately, many smokers and young adolescents believe that vaping is not harmful. No doubt, that false public perception has been fueled by the marketing of e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to traditional smoking. That the marketing has increased shouldn’t surprise us: E-cigarettes, including vaporizers, “vape mods,” “cig-a-like,” and “T-Vapor” was valued at $11.8 billion in 2018 and the “value” of the industry continues to rise at a stunning rate.
Sadly, there has been a rapid increase in vaping, particularly among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”) reports that the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 3.6 million in 2018 to 5.3 million in 2019. This represents a difference of about 1.7 million youth and a forty-seven percent increase in a single year.
The CDC also notes that, in the past 30 days, more than one out of every 10 middle school students (10.5%) reported that they used electronic cigarettes and that more than one out of every four high school students (27.5%) reported that they used electronic cigarettes.
In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Richard Miech of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor reported an increase among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders, of 2.8%, 4.1% and 4.5%, respectively over 2018.
According to Euromonitor International, the number of vapers worldwide has increased from about seven million in 2011 to 41 million in 2018.
These increases should alarm all of us. Severe vaping related illnesses and even deaths are also on the rise.
The CDC reports e-cigarette related lung injuries as an OUTBREAK. Specifically, the CDC reports 2,290 such cases as of November 20, 2019, from 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As of November 20, the CDC reports 47 confirmed deaths in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the CDC, “E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
In October, the first double lung transplant was successfully performed on a seventeen year old boy who had suffered irreparable lung damage due to vaping. His family released a statement worth considering:
“We asked … doctors [at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit] to share that the horrific life-threatening effects of vaping are very real! Our family could never have imagined being at the center of the largest adolescent public health crisis to face our country in decades.
“Within a very short period of time, our lives have been forever changed. He has gone from the typical life of a perfectly healthy 16-year-old athlete — attending high school, hanging out with friends, sailing and playing video games — to waking up intubated and with two new lungs, facing a long and painful recovery process as he struggles to regain his strength and mobility, which has been severely impacted.”
Before you decide to enjoy the Yuletide with a new pastime, please be aware of the dangers of e-cigarettes. If you or your child has developed a vaping-related illness, the experienced Tampa Bay personal injury lawyers want to help. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.
This article was written by Attorney Tim Perenich.