January 21, 2020

Why CDC just narrowed its vaping recommendation

Daily Briefing

    CDC in a report released Tuesday announced a majority of patients in three states with the vaping-linked lung illness reported receiving tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products from their friends, family, and other informal sources, as cases of the illness continue to rise.

    Cases of vaping-linked lung illness surpass 2.6K

    CDC data updated Thursday shows the number of reported hospitalized cases of a lung illness officials believe is linked to e-cigarette use and vaping, dubbed EVALI, reached 2,668 as of Jan. 14. There were 60 confirmed deaths related to the vaping illness as of Jan. 14, 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, last month said the agency has determined that the majority of cases of EVALI "can be attributed to exposure to (THC)-containing vaping products [with] vitamin E acetate." THC is the high-inducing chemical found in marijuana.

    However, Schuchat said CDC has not ruled out other potential culprits for the illness. Schuchat said CDC is continuing to investigate the illness and the health effects of e-cigarettes, including the effects of inhaling the aerosol and gases released by e-cigarette fluids.

    Most cases of illness associated with THC-containing vaping products from informal sources                                                                                                  

    CDC in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Tuesday said most of the patients with the vaping-linked lung illness in Illinois, Utah, and Wisconsin reported obtaining THC-containing vaping products from informal sources, including family and friends.

    Among the 1,979 patients with EVALI who as of Jan. 7 had reported information on which vaping devices they used and where they obtained them:

    • 82% reported using THC-containing products, including 34% who reported exclusively using THC-containing products; and
    • 57% reported using nicotine-containing products, including 13% who reported exclusively using nicotine-containing products.

    Among 613 patients who reported the source of their nicotine-containing products, 69% reported obtaining their products from commercial sources, while 17% reported receiving their products from informal sources, and 15% said they received their products from both informal and formal sources, CDC found.

    Among the 809 patients who reported the source of their THC-containing products, 78% said they received their products from informal sources such as family, friends, online dealers, and other sources, CDC found. However, 16% of patients said they obtained their THC-containing devices from commercial sources such as a pop-up shop, recreational dispensary, or store. And 6% reported receiving their THC-containing devices from both informal and commercial sources.

    According to CDC, adolescents ages 13 to 17 were more likely to obtain both THC- and nicotine-containing products from informal sources.

    CDC updates vaping recommendations

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest data prompted CDC to scale back its prior recommendation for all consumers to avoid all e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Now CDC's website states, "CDC and FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers." CDC in the latest MMWR report also noted that even in states that have legalized marijuana, consumers may not be able to tell if the commercial source has been licensed by the state.

    However, the agency continues to urge youth, pregnant women, and non-tobacco against vaping (Bacon/O'Donnell, USA Today, 1/14; Weixel, The Hill, 1/14; Maddipatla/Sibi Joseph, Reuters, 1/16; Abbott, Wall Street Journal, 1/17; CDC's MMWR, 1/14).

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