The e-cigarette and vaping epidemic has claimed its first victim in Mississippi. It is a male, aged under 30, according to the state’s Department of Health. There are also 4 other Mississippians who have succumbed to pulmonary or lung disease that has been associated with vaping.
Mississippi has joined 9 other states that have recorded fatalities. So far, this year there have been 12 deaths and 805 illnesses. The figures, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that there has been a sharp rise from last year when there were 530 illnesses recorded and 7 deaths. The increase in vaping related illness has been labed an ‘epidemic’ by health authorities across the U.S.
The rise of vaping vs smoking tobacco
Vaping has been around for at least a decade now. It uses a liquid contained in a container called a pod that is heated by a battery device. Users inhale the vapor, which is normally, but not always, a concentrated nicotine product, derived from tobacco. The vapor from these products does not have the other substances associated with tobacco that are known to cause lung cancer and other health problems. When vaping was first introduced, vaping was touted as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. The steady increase in the use of vaping has been paralleled by the equally steady decline in smoking tobacco.
Health authorities are unsure exactly what the primary cause of the lung disease is. It is likely that it is a chemical product, but there is no certainty what it is. There has been some suggestion that it might be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary ingredient in cannabis, which is used in liquid form by many vaping users. It might also be a substance or cocktail of substances that are associated with vaping flavors. Vaping flavors have been used extensively to make vaping more attractive. Many flavors have now been banned by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pending a criminal investigation into vaping products.
Juul Labs and vaping illness links
One company that has been implicated in vaping illnesses is Juul Labs. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes. Its major shareholder is the Altria Group, which is the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes and formerly Phillip Morris, a major cigarette manufacturer.
Juul’s e-cigarettes were deliberately marketed towards younger people with an aggressive social media campaign, the use of younger models and attractive flavors with equally attractive names. The vaping epidemic has disproportionately affected younger people with a reported 3.6 million high school age teenagers admitting to have used vaping products last year.
Juul’s CEO, Kevin Burns, has just resigned and apologized about the effect that Juul’s products might have had on vaping users. It has stopped the print and digital advertising of its products and attempted to introduce more screening of online purchase of e-cigarettes by under-age users.
Health officials warn e-cigarette users, whether they are young or old, not to be tempted in unknown products off the streets and to be alert to symptoms typical of those that have affected Mississippi vaping victims. Until there is a definite cause identified that is associated with lung disease associated with vaping it will not be possible to file a personal injury claim against whoever is responsible. The vaping epidemic is beginning to bear some similarity with the first wave of the nation’s opioid crisis, a crisis which has now developed into a legal battleground with at least one multilitigation lawsuit that has resulted in a 10 billion dollar payout and bankruptcy of one of the major opioid drug manufacturers, Pharma Purdue.
If you, or a loved one, suffers from a vaping illness, you may find in the near future that a personal injury attorney at the Diaz Law Firm could assist in pursuing a legal claim against a company or individual who is found to have caused your illness. You can contact the Diaz Law Firm in Jackson Mississippi at 601-607-3456.