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December 21, 2019

CDC: Evidence growing that vitamin E acetate was behind vaping-related lung injury outbreak

Addiction Vaping
Teen popcorn lung vaping LEE PHILLIPS/Pexels

More than 2,500 people have been hospitalized in connection with an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries.

Vitamin E acetate is increasingly being linked as a leading cause of the United States' months-long, nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a briefing Friday that researchers have found more and more evidence suggesting vitamin E acetate was being added to cartridges containing THC beginning in June, according to Reuters.

Schuchat said Friday that a study from the New England Journal of Medicine, which examined patients from 16 different states, showed a 94% link between vaping-related lung injuries and the presence of vitamin E acetate in THC cartridges used, per Reuters.

More than 2,500 people have been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak, including 54 fatalities, health officials announced earlier this month.

Pennsylvania confirmed its first vaping illness-related death in early October. At the time, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine encouraged Pennsylvania residents to stop vaping:

"We do not yet know what is making people sick, and whether the illnesses are related to products being used, or potentially the delivery of those products," Levine said in a statement Friday. "I strongly urge everyone who is vaping illegally bought products, in particular those with THC, to stop.

"In addition, there could be possible risks with legally purchased products. We want to warn people that investigations are ongoing and we advise they use extreme caution before using any vaping product at this time."

According to a National Institutes of Health study released this week, the number of teenagers vaping marijuana in 2019 nearly matched the number of teenagers vaping nicotine.

Last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and nicotine products, which now includes e-cigarettes and other vaping products, to 21 years old. The law goes into effect July 1, 2020.

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