After causing a panic which lasted nearly six months, the CDC has finally confirmed that not a single case of the respiratory condition it has dubbed EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury, is attributable to legal, regulated nicotine-based vapor products. The name of the condition itself constitutes an ambiguity fallacy in which two distinct types of products — one being legal and regulated, the other being neither, are lumped together so that the former is blamed for the ills caused by the latter.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now conclusively put that to rest. But the Canadian Vaping Association reacted with consternation. They, along with other advocacy organizations and most independent vapers, have maintained and vocalized the distinction between nicotine-based vapor products sold in adult-only retailers, as opposed to their illicit, adulterated THC-based competition, since the distinction became clear very early on.
Darryl Tempest, Executive Director for the Canadian Vaping Association, had this to say:
“This update frankly comes too late in the cycle of this tragic EVALI episode, both for the victims and the untold number of reforming smokers who found salvation through e-nicotine vaping, only to be compelled back to combustible tobacco out of false fears. It does feel like we are finally vindicated, now that it is widely and conclusively established that these lung illnesses were the result of black market cannabis vaping products laced with vitamin E acetate. For the past few months, it has felt like our statements about what was – and wasn’t – at the root of the outbreak fell mostly on deaf ears.
This announcement from the CDC further demonstrates the critical importance in classifying the e-cigarette category accurately and specifically to clearly differentiate nicotine, water-soluble vaping products from oil-soluble cannabis vaping products containing THC.”
The CDC recently disclosed the results of its investigation into the source products for the EVALI condition. Of 150 products identified as culprits, not one was a regulated nicotine-based vapor product, according to reporting from Yahoo! Finance.
According to public health experts like Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University, this distinction between regulated and illegal products should have been made concrete and clear much sooner than it was. Furthermore, he has stated that the CDC’s clear anti-vaping partisanship has jeopardized public health, in which Dr. Siegel explained on Boston University’s web site the crucial distinction between product categories all the way back in August, and added:
“But instead of acknowledging this—and warning against vaping THC oils, any oil-based e-liquid, and any e-liquid bought off the street—health agencies including the CDC have urged the public to avoid using e-cigarettes altogether. This is irresponsible and a potential hazard to public health, and it stems from a categorical anti-vaping stance that has become commonplace and threatens to undermine decades of anti-smoking efforts.”
For vaping advocacy organizations and independent advocates and even casual vapers with panicked friends and family, the way forward now is education, as it always has been; the difference now is the level of resistance to education. Says Tempest:
“Our industry, which is not affiliated with tobacco-owned vaping brands, has greatly suffered from this misclassification and the wrongful association of our industry with illicit THC-based vaping products. Now that the reality of the source of the outbreak has been confirmed, we are focused on educating Canadians on the truth of these products and their components. Nicotine-based vapes remain a far less harmful alternative for tobacco smokers and Canadians need to know that products sold in legal vape shops have gone through a regulated process that ensures safety and adherence to ingredient labelling requirements.”