In recent weeks, cases of a mysterious lung disease have popped up around the country. The illness has over 400 reported cases, and six have died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the disease to vitamin E present in certain vaping devices.
While the root cause is still under speculation, there’s been a huge issue in the way national media covered the epidemic early on. Outlets like Esquire were quick to blame the outbreak on devices like Juul alongside THC vapes.
The reality is THC vapes are highly unregulated and easily counterfeited. On September 11, two Wisconsin brothers were arrested in a massive counterfeit vape bust. Officers retrieved 31,000 cartridges filled with THC juice and another 98,000 empty cartridges.
It’s operations like those that pose the greatest risk. Underground vaping products could contain any combination of deadly chemicals, and the risk doesn’t stop at THC. Counterfeit nicotine pods are on the market as well, and while not all nicotine devices are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, those fakes have terrifying potential to do harm.
Unfortunately, instead of addressing the risk of unregulated products, legislators around the U.S. have started proposing various bans on e-cigarettes, especially flavored ones, under the guise of the risk they pose to teens.
E-cigarettes do pose a risk for teens; they are addictive. Juul can be held partially responsible for that, considering they marketed to youth early on. But the same thing can be said about the cigarette industry for most of the 20th century.
Regardless of Juul’s shady tactics, banning alternatives to cigarettes is not the solution. Taking away an alternative to the plethora of toxins found in cigarettes is not only unfair to smokers who have found relief in e-cigarettes, but it doesn’t address the cause of this “epidemic.”
Cigarettes kill 480,000 per year, and more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by cigarettes. So, six deaths that may be attributed to some guy in Wisconsin making shady THC cartridges out of his basement doesn’t seem like proper ground to outlaw e-cigarettes.
If national media covered cigarettes the way vaping risks have been covered, a small outbreak that can only potentially be linked to e-cigarettes would be quickly forgotten.
Nobody is arguing e-cigarettes are harmless. There’s probably a chance years of vaping will lead to some horrible lung disease we should have seen coming, just like we should have seen cigarettes causing health problems. But the risks are being handled poorly.
If e-cigarettes do turn out to be one of the culprits, they still should not be banned. They should be pulled from the market, corrected and regulated to ensure safety. In the meantime, consider just smoking regular weed instead of buying THC carts from some guy on Facebook. And if retiring the Juul isn’t the best option, it’s probably best to avoid smoking multiple pods a day.
Noah Wright is a junior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Tweet him @NoahCampaign