ATLANTA—The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has moved away from a broad recommendation that people refrain from vaping altogether while authorities investigate the outbreak of lung illnesses linked to the practice, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Last week, the agency removed from its website a warning that people should stop vaping if they are worried about the illnesses. In September, the agency stated that people should stop using vaping products, but later narrowed that recommendation, warning that people should stop using vaping products containing THC—the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis—but should consider refraining from all vaping.
The new recommendation was posted late last week and no longer included the broad reference to stopping vaping. However, the agency still recommends that young people, pregnant women and non-tobacco users shouldn’t vape.
“Recommendations were refined to reflect the best available scientific evidence and to best protect public health,” said Brian King, chief science officer for the CDC’s vaping-related outbreak response.
Evidence has increasingly tied the recent explosion of vape-related illnesses to a substance called vitamin E acetate, an oil sometimes added to dilute THC products. THC oils and cannabis products are becoming legal in an increasing number of states across the country.
The outbreak of vaping-related illnesses started in 2019. Research found that most sufferers had vaped THC-containing products acquired from unregulated sources, and that 62% of the patients were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.
Youth vaping, however, has been on the rise among U.S. middle- and high-school students since 2011 and is largely associated with vaping nicotine. The increase in youth vaping has been driven by several factors, including advertising, attractive fruity flavors and the availability of easily concealed devices that deliver higher levels of nicotine, said the New England Journal of Medicine.
The CDC advises that former smokers, who use nicotine e-cigarettes, shouldn’t go back to smoking, but should contact their health-care providers if they need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, or if they are concerned about the recent illnesses.
As of January 14, there have been 2,668 hospitalized cases of the vaping-related illness, and at least 60 people have died, the CDC said. Hospitalizations have slowed since peaking in September, but new cases are still being reported.
The CDC reported that roughly 82% of patients with the lung illnesses for whom substance-use data is available reported using THC-containing products, while roughly 14% have reported exclusive use of nicotine products.