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February 3, 2020

3 reasons the vaping illness outbreak has slowed, according to CDC

Daily Briefing

    The rate of new cases of a vaping-linked lung illness has gradually decreased since peaking in September 2019, according to CDC. Here are three reasons the agency said the outbreak has slowed, and updated recommendations on how to keep the lung illness at bay.

    Cases of vaping-linked lung illness surpass 2.7K

    CDC data updated Tuesday shows the number of reported hospitalized cases of a lung illness officials believe is linked to e-cigarette use and vaping, dubbed EVALI, reached 2,711 as of Jan. 21. There were a total of 60 confirmed deaths related to the vaping illness as of Jan. 21, according to CDC. Cases of the illness have been reported in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; and two U.S. territories, with deaths confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

    Anne Schuchat, CDC's principal deputy director, has said the agency determined that the majority of cases of EVALI "can be attributed to exposure to" vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana, and vitamin E acetate. However, Schuchat said CDC has not ruled out other potential culprits for the illness. She said CDC is continuing to investigate the illness and the health effects of e-cigarettes.

    CDC says rate of new cases is slowing

    According to CDC, the number of newly reported vaping-related ED visits has gradually declined since peaking in September 2019. In addition, the total number of reported deaths linked to the vaping illness hasn't increased since reaching 60 as of Jan. 14.

    CDC said there are three possible reasons for the slowdown:

    • Legal actions that may have prevented the sale of some vaping products;
    • Increased public awareness of the risks associated with vaping, particularly with e-cigarettes containing THC; and
    • The possible removal of vitamin E acetate from some vaping products.

    How to prevent the illness

    Although the rate of new EVALI cases is slowing, the total number of cases has continued to increase.

    To prevent future cases of the illness, CDC and FDA recommend that people avoid using THC-containing e-cigarette products, especially those from "informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers." CDC notes that THC has been tied to various negative health effects, especially with frequent or prolonged use.

    CDC also recommends that individuals avoid adding substances to vaping products, especially vitamin E acetate.

    Further, the agency continues to urge youth, pregnant women, and non-tobacco users against vaping altogether. CDC says "adults using nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or vaping products as an alternative to cigarettes should not go back to smoking," but should instead consider using FDA-approved smoking-cessation methods (Masson, Becker's Clinical Leadership & Infection Control, 1/29; Maddipatla/Joseph, Reuters, 1/28; CDC data, 1/28).

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