Double lung transplant due to vaping; possible cause found to vaping illnesses

Also this week, a story on a teenager who required a double lung transplant due to his lungs being damaged by vaping.

It’s a harrowing story on how vaping completely destroyed a 17-year-old’s lungs. It’s really sad.

From an NBC News article:

“Doctors at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where the teen was treated, said they had never seen such scarring on someone’s lungs from vaping.”

“‘This is an evil that I haven’t faced before,” Dr. Hassan Nemeh, a thoracic specialist at Henry Ford Health System, said during a news conference.”

Wow, that’s some pretty hairy quotes. It really brings it home just how destructive the vaping illnesses have been. More than 40 people have died now and more than 2,000 have been sickened. Nemeh urges kids to stop vaping all products, not just THC products.

According to the story, vaping of both nicotine and THC products has caused the thousands of deaths around the country from vaping (and a few dozen deaths). I do believe it is mostly THC products being sold on the street.

Here’s an interesting aspect to the story. Scientists think they might have tracked down the cause of the illnesses — at least one of them. It’s Vitamin E acetate, which is being used as a diluting agent in THC vapes. Vitamin E acetate, a synthetic form of Vitamin E, has been found in half of the 419 THC vaping fluids tested by the Food and Drug Administration.

Here is a statement from the Centers for Disease Control:

CDC recommends that people should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers. Until the relationship of vitamin E acetate and lung health is better understood, vitamin E acetate should not be added to e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

One of the original Marlboro Man dies at 90

An interesting story about one of the very first “Marlboro Man,” who actually never smoked a single cigarette. He died last week at the age of 90. It’s a neat story.

Bob Norris was approached by Philip Morris ad executives (I imagine Don Draper out of “Mad Men” in his grey suit out in the high plains…) in the 1950s while he was talking to John Wayne outside of a ranch in Colorado. It’s debatable whether he was the first-ever Marlboro Men, but he had a nice run of 12 years of being in magazine ads and billboards in the 1950s.

Here’s a neat story of why Morris quit doing the ad campaign, even though it made him a lot of money. One of his kids got old enough to ask him about “If you don’t approve of us smoking, why are you in cigarette ads.” Norris claimed he quit modeling as the Marlboro Man the day after that.

Bob Norris might have had the longest life of the several real-life cowboys who played Marlboro Men over the decades. Six of them — SIX — died of tobacco-related illnesses, including one who died at the age of 52 from lung cancer. Three others died of lung cancer, one at the age of 72 and the other at 73, and a third died of COPD. So many Marlboro Men died of smoking that Marlboros became known as “Cowboy Killers.”

So Norris outlived them all. Unfortunately, for 12 years, he didn’t really think about the morality of what he was doing (back in his day, few people gave much thought to the morality of cigarettes, frankly) but he came around. And that’s what’s important.

San Francisco refuses to overturn e-cig ban

Juul, which ironically enough is actually based in San Francisco, helped finance a ballot measure to overturn the city of San Francisco’s ban on selling e-cigarette products in the city.

Well Juul … you get NOTHING. The Juul-backed measure failed by 78 percent. Let me reiterate … 78 fucking percent. San Franciscans are sick your shit … and your lies, vaping industry. Go sell your products in San Jose … for a little while before the FDA inevitably all but destroys the vaping industry.

Keep in mind, this is not a ban on vaping. It is simply a ban on selling vape products in the city.

From a San Francisco Chronicle article:

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who actively supported the No on Prop. C campaign, said in a statement Tuesday night, “Juul is Big Tobacco, and it’s using a classic ploy from the Big Tobacco playbook to try and hook another generation of kids on nicotine. Voters saw right through Juul’s deception.

“San Francisco already has the toughest e-cigarette regulations in the nation. By law, e-cigarettes must undergo FDA review to ensure they are safe for public health. Complete FDA review and you can sell your product here. If you don’t, you can’t. It’s that simple,” Herrera said.

“Juul spent millions trying to mislead San Franciscans and rewrite the rules to benefit itself before realizing that was a fool’s errand. It could have put that time and effort into completing the required FDA review,” he said. “Perhaps FDA review is a test that Juul is afraid it can’t pass.”

Federal ban on e-cig flavourings happening any day now?

Hey, it’s an update. Just haven’t had time lately.

This report from USA Today suggests that a federal ban on flavoured e-cig products is going to happen “very soon.”

This has been building up for months, partly because of the genuine alarm over the rapid increase in teen use of vaping products and partly over the hysteria over vaping illnesses and deaths the past few weeks (though most of those illnesses appear to have been from marijuana vaping products, not nicotine vaping products.).

In anticipation for the upcoming ban, Juul, one of the biggest  has already stopped selling menthol-flavoured vaping pods.

When it happens, I will have ZERO sympathy for the industry. For years, they got away with marketing their products to teenagers, for years they got away with enticing kids to vape addictive nicotine  through candy flavourings like bubble gum,

It’s a shame for people who have legitimately quit smoking via e-cigs, lord knows I’ve talked to enough of them over the years to accept that their dedication to the power of e-cigs is sincere, but this is what happens when you have an utterly unregulated industry operating with zero oversight … golly, the bottom line becomes vastly more important  to them than the social good. Call me an SJW. Whatever.

I’m guessing what this means is that e-cigs will have to be unflavoured from now on? Not sure on that.

It’s also possible that these flavourings will simply be banned from minimarkets and convenience stores and that only vape shops will be allowed to sell them … which was an idea (and a GOOD idea) originally proposed a year or two ago that the FDA dropped. Vape shops are more strictly regulated than convenience stores and are more stringent about keeping minors from coming in the door.

From the USA Today article:

A sign of the imminent ban announcement came Monday, when the Office of Management and Budget said it concluded its review of the rule and cancelled upcoming meetings with industry and consumer interests. (White House spokeswoman Kellyanne) Conway also said an announcement was coming soon. (Yes, that Kellyanne Conway).

On Tuesday, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published findings highlighted in September when Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the planned ban. E-cigarette use among high school students more than doubled from 2017 to 2019 to 27.5%. About 5.3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes this year, up from 3.6 million in 2018.

Another study, also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found after Juul stopped selling mango and other flavors in November, high school students simply switched to mint.

Flavoured vaping fluid to be banned

An 18-year-old teen sickened by e-cigs

OK, by now, you’ve heard the huge news  … shockingly yesterday, the Trump Administration has proposed banning flavoured e-cigarette fluids in light of e-cig illnesses that have struck hundreds of people and killed 6 people so far.

Weirdly enough, I wasn’t completely surprised by it — the tide has been turning against e-cigarettes for months now — but I was shocked at how quickly the decision came and with how little warning there was that something was afoot.

I can’t really add a lot to the reams of articles I’ve been reading the past couple of days about this other than to add my thoughts about this move.

First of all, I would not be remotely shocked at all if Trump and his administration completely reverses their decision. It wouldn’t be the first time. This is a virulently pro-business and anti-regulation administration … I mean they’ve all but completely gutted EPA rules and regulations over the past three years.

And this is a very anti-business move. The e-cig industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and Trump has effectively gutted it overnight. AND keep in mind, the e-cig industry IS the tobacco industry. Roughly 90 percent of the e-cig market is controlled by Big Tobacco (RJ Reynolds, Altria and British American Tobacco).

I imagine Big Tobacco either won’t be happy with this move or they’re willing to sacrifice the e-cig industry in the name of public relations, thinking all those nicotine-addicted e-cig users will simply go back to cigarettes.

Secondly, I have mixed feelings about this. From talking to myriad e-cig users, I respect that they have genuinely helped millions of people quit smoking. Yeah, people are getting sick on e-cig fluids, but this appears to be stuff people are buying on the street and most of the time, it appears to be marijuana vaping. This isn’t Juul or Blu behind this.

So, is this just going to drive adult vapers back to cigarettes? Will there just be unflavoured vaping fluids now? Is the flavouring part of the appeal of vaping for grown-ups? We’ll see.

Yes, teen vaping is a HUGE issue, I’ve been railing about it for two or three years now. The flavourings are part of the issue. It pisses me off to no end to see bubble gum flavoured e-cig products with nicotine. Or cookie dough flavour. Or Rice Krispie Treat flavour. My reaction when I see some of the flavours out there is: “You have got to be shitting me.” The industry is CLEARLY trying to get kids addicted.

So, in that sense, I do agree something has to be done. It’s well past time. It’s too bad more can’t be done to keep these products strictly in the hands of adults.

Thirdly, I’ve seen a number of people make a very valid point about “Six people die from vaping, Trump takes action. Thousands killed by guns … nothing.”

Yeah, fair enough, I can’t really argue with it, though I would say it’s not necessarily an “either or” situation. You can care about both vaping and guns.

Again, I’m pretty cynical that Trump is actually going to follow through with this. I just get the sense that Big Tobacco lobbyists are working round the clock to get this either reversed or watered down.

 

 

 

Michigan bans e-cigarette flavouring

Michigan becomes the first state in the country to ban the sales of e-cigarette flavouring, joining the city of San Francisco, as it becomes more and more blatant that flavoured e-cig juices are intended to entice teenagers.

From an Associated Press article:

The federal government and states ban the sale of vaping products to minors, yet government survey figures show that last year, one in five U.S. high school students reported vaping in the previous month. Top government health officials, including the surgeon general, have flagged the trend as an epidemic.

“This is a health crisis that we’re confronting, and it would never be permitted if it was cigarettes. We’re letting these companies target our kids, appeal to our kids and deceive our children,” Whitmer told reporters. Michigan’s chief medical executive determined that youth vaping constitutes a public health emergency.

Man, this is insane on this e-cig graphic I pulled up online of some e-cigarette flavours — pancake mix, strudel, watermelon bubble gum, blueberry, and Rice Krispie treats.

Wait … RICE KRISPIE TREATS?

Rice Krispie Treats. And you’re telling me these AREN’T being used to entice kids? Seriously? When I see shit like this, I have ZERO sympathy for the e-cig industry and the regulatory morass that is coming for them. They literally BEGGED for it. Jesus. Are people using e-cigs to quit smoking REALLY wanting pancake mix and Rick Krispie Treat flavoured e-cigs?

From the AP story:

Nearly 80% of underage teenagers who use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products cited flavors when asked why they took up the habit, according to government research.

Think about that. 80 percent. See if any other jurisdictions start banning e-cigarette flavouring.

The rise and possibly fall of Juul? — Juul under investigation

Ro, ro, Shaggy.

Wow, this really interesting. This story blew me away. Apparently, some state and federal agencies and some state attorneys general looking into the company’s marketing practices. Could this be the fall of mighty Juul?

The attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Illinois (and four other states) are investigating just how Juul became so popular with teens, literally within months of Juuls hitting the market.

I know one thing Juul did was very smartly (in an evil way) use Instagram and other social media to market Juul to mostly young people … who are on Instagram. I also know they totally came out of NOWHERE to completely dominate the e-cig market (they control about 75 percent of the market).

From a Los Angeles Times article:

A senior Illinois law enforcement official described to the Associated Press a wide-ranging inquiry being conducted by the office of Illinois Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul that is centered on whether Juul violated state consumer fraud laws and other statutes by designing and marketing its products to appeal to underage teens. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Marrisa Geller, a spokeswoman for District of Columbia Atty. Gen. Karl Racine, confirmed in an emailed statement that an investigation of Juul is underway. She said Racine is concerned about “the dramatic increase in the use of vaping products by district youth” as well as the policies and practices employed by e-cigarette manufacturers to prevent minors from using their products.

The attorneys general in Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts have announced investigations of Juul related to concerns over underage use of its products. North Carolina’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Juul in May, asking a court to limit the company’s sales and marketing in the state.

I’m wondering here just how much shit Juul is actually in, but it sounds like possibly a lot. It sounds like there could be RICO statutes involved. This trouble isn’t going  to go away anytime soon and it certainly begs the question of whether this might be the beginning of the end for the company.

Interestingly, Juul actually donated $3,000 to the election campaign of the attorney general of Illinois, but he refused it on ethical grounds. Good for him.

Juul also has a bottomless pit of financing to fight the attorneys general. Remember, they are partly owned by Altria, which owns Philip Morris and Marlboro cigarettes.

I’ll definitely be keeping on eye on this story to see if anything comes of it.

Juul prepares to fight San Francisco

Remember the douchy Juul CEO who is so awfully, terribly sorry that teenagers use his product?

Well, while researching douche-bro, I found out he’s preparing to go to war with San Francisco.

San Francisco a few weeks ago was the first major city in the U.S. to ban sales of e-cig products.

Ironically, Juul, the No. 1 e-cig company in the world (it is actually partly owned by Altria, which makes Marlboro cigarettes), is based in San Francisco.

Douche-bro CEO Kevin Burns, who is so awfully sorry teens use his product after his company aggressively marketed Juuls on social media for years, said Juul is not leaving San Francisco.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • As San Francisco officials prepare to consider a bill that would suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in the city, the CEO of Juul Labs — the controversial, homegrown company that sells the majority of e-cigarettes in the U.S. — said he’s committed to keeping the business and its fast-growing workforce in San Francisco.

“Yes, we’re staying,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview with The Chronicle’s editorial board. “San Francisco is our home. We want to be in San Francisco. We have 1,200 employees in San Francisco, a huge talent base in San Francisco. We want to be a resident, and I’m hopeful we’ll find a way to be a resident.”

And beyond that, Juul is going to fight the city’s ban on selling vaping products. The company is sponsoring a sneaky voter initiative that is being presented as an anti-tobacco initiative. What it really is is a backdoor attempt to override San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarette sales.

From the Chronicle:

Juul wants to place an initiative on the November ballot that would essentially override [San Francisco’s e-cig sales ban], if it is passed, by ensuring that e-cigarettes could continue to be sold in San Francisco. The ballot measure is being framed as an attempt to further restrict tobacco sales to minors, but most of those restrictions are already in place under state law.

Tobacco industry critics say Juul has used deceptive language, trying to frame the initiative as the last word in tobacco regulation in San Francisco by including the words “Comprehensive regulation of vapor products … the provisions of this initiative may only be amended by a vote of the people.”

Juul said the ballot measure, if passed, would prevent the Board of Supervisors from enacting an e-cigarette ban in the future — but it would not negate tobacco laws the city has already enacted, such as a ban on flavored tobacco that voters passed last year.

Oh, sneaky, sneaky, sneaky bastards, using the same sneaky doublespeak techniques that their overlord Altria and Philip Morris have used for years.

UPDATE: Man dies from vaping illness

It appears at least one person has died in the surge of vaping-related illnesses, mostly in the Midwest.

An Illinois man who came down with a sudden respiratory illness after vaping died. All told, at least 193 lung illnesses have been identified as being related to vaping. There are dozens more cases under investigation that might be tied to this outbreak.

It appears that there was a contaminated or purposely poisoned batch of vaping fluid. And it appears it was being sold on the streets. Reportedly, it’s both nicotine and marijuana involved, though all the stories I’ve read seem to be hinting that this is mostly happening with THC vaping fluid.

From an NBC News story:

In Wisconsin, a 26-year-old man started to feel ill and was hospitalized after taking a couple of hits from a new vape cartridge. Dylan Nelson of Burlington, Wisconsin, eventually had to be put into a medically induced coma after his lungs started filling with liquid.

He has since been released and is recovering.

His brother, Patrick DeGrave, said that Nelson purchased the cartridge off the street and not from a reputable shop.

“You don’t know if you’re buying something from a middleman that picked it up from a dispensary or if you’re buying it from somebody who has tampered with it and made their own mixture,” he said. “You literally don’t know what you’re inhaling into your body.”

Juul’s owner is so awfully sorry

Juul CEO Kevin Burns

This happened a while ago, but I’m just now getting to it. I really got a kick out of it. And it pissed me off.

The owner of Juul actually apologized for the role his company played in helping to popularize e-cig use by teenagers.

It totally came off like an old Monty Python bit … “I’m so sorry, so awfully sorry I murdered all those people …  Gosh, I’m sorry …”

Yeah, he’s sorry he’s a billionaire, too, I’m sure.

From a USA today article:

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Kevin Burns, who joined Juul in late 2017. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

Oh, baloney, Kevin Burns, especially his bullshit about “I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

Teen girl using a Juul

Juul was one of the vaping companies that most aggressively and successfully used social media to advertise its products, including Instragram “influencers.” Jull very quickly came to dominate the e-cig industry, gaining control of over 70 percent of the industry. This guy Burns is so full of it. He apologized because he got called to testify before congress and because lawsuits are piling up against Juul over addicting kids to nicotine (it turns out Juul pods are considerably more powerful with higher amounts of nicotine than other e-cig companies). This really takes the cake as one of the phoniest “apologies” I’ve ever seen. The L.A. Times even wrote an op-ed piece called, “Let’s call it a Juuling epidemic.”

From the USA Today article:

Yet Juul’s critics point to the company’s initial advertising campaign, which featured bright colors and young looking models, as evidence that Juul fueled the surge in teen vaping. Co-founder Adam Bowen said in retrospect the ads were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” he said. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.”

The Campaign for Smokefree Kids thought the same of Burns’ apology as I did.

From their press release:

Once again, Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook: Proclaim loudly that they don’t want kids to use their product, while never admitting that their marketing targeted and attracted kids. Like its partner Altria, Juul still refuses to admit that the company’s marketing targeted kids or has played a major role in youth use of its e-cigarettes – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

This is a deceptive, self-serving gesture by Juul given their complete refusal to take responsibility for creating the youth e-cigarette epidemic. It is a blatant attempt to deflect attention from the company’s wrongdoing while it opposes meaningful government regulation to prevent it from continuing to addict kids. There can be no doubt about Juul’s role in the current youth epidemic: It marketed a sleek, cool, high-tech product that comes in sweet flavors that appeal to kids, delivers a massive dose of nicotine that can quickly hook kids and was launched with social media marketing that a Stanford study found was patently youth-oriented.

This is one more example that Juul is more interested in repairing its image and expanding its sales than preventing youth use. Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook to the letter: Addict kids, deny responsibility for doing so, run slick PR campaigns to fool policy makers and the public, and fight real solutions to the problem.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.