E-cigarettes… and a question of why some health risks are publicized over others

The following is a news analysis.

As many Americans know, there has recently been a fairly sudden and very public effort to draw attention to the health risks of e-cigarettes.

This includes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issuing weekly tallies of injuries and the states where they occur. Among the highlights: most injuries are occurring in males under age 35.

Contrast this effort to spread the word about e-cigarettes… with other health risks that seem to be kept largely under wraps.

This includes the CDC’s refusal for many months to disclose the number of victims state-by-state when it comes to a mysterious virus and a possibly related mysterious polio-like paralysis that’s been hitting American children since 2014.

Thousands of children have been impacted by the virus and paralysis. Yet CDC issued few public alerts, would not grant interviews when I asked, and initially claimed it could not give a list of the states where the paralysis occurred for “patient privacy” reasons. Of course, this was nonsensical reasoning since listing the states in no way identifies the children involved. Further, many parents said they wanted their children’s cases publicized in order to help other families. CDC also made it very difficult to find out more about this mystery. I ended up pursuing a Freedom of Information Act request over a course of many years to get basic public information about a disease impacting the public health, as CDC fought disclosure. Eventually, CDC did release the list of states.

In short, it can be unclear as to why CDC widely publicizes some health threats, while downplaying others… even when greater numbers are involved.

In any event, here is CDC’s latest information on e-cigarettes.

CDC updates number of cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping

  • As of October 1, 2019, 1,080 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping, were reported by 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Among 578 patients with information on substances used in e-cigarette, or vaping, products in the 90 days prior to symptom onset:
    • About 78% reported using THC-containing products, with or without nicotine-containing products; 37% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products; and
    • 17% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.
  • About 70% of patients are male.
  • Approximately 80% of the patients are under 35 years old; 16% are under 18 years old.
    • The median age of patients is 23 years, ranging from 13 to 75 years old.


  • 18 deaths have been confirmed in 15 states: Alabama, California (2), Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas (2), Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon (2), and Virginia.
    • The median age of patients who have died is 50 years, ranging from 27 to 71 years old.

The increasing number of lung injury cases we see associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, is deeply concerning. Unfortunately, this may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the escalating health threat this outbreak poses to the American public, particularly youth and young adults. CDC will continue to work with FDA and state health partners to investigate the cause, or causes, of this outbreak and to bring an end to these lung injuries.

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, MD, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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13 thoughts on “E-cigarettes… and a question of why some health risks are publicized over others”

  1. Sharyl, love your work. I started vaping about five years ago to quit a 36 year smoking habit. I am down to the lowest level nicotine and feel great. I have noticed a disturbing trend in vaping where people use huge batteries and try to make huge clouds of vapor like it’s a badge of honor. This might be part of the problem.

  2. Sharyl, it is a good question you ask about why the CDC widely publicizes some health threats while downplaying others even when greater numbers are involved. Keep up the good work

  3. Christopher Kelly

    Ive been Speculating if the Marlboro Man Lobbying And Funding this Summer of the Shark News Coverage Over reporting Campaign.

  4. Any tie-in w/ Chinese revival of opium wars of old w/ counterfeit fentanyl deaths?
    Do appreciate your dilligence to “the truth will out.”

  5. And how many people died of tobacco smoking the same time frame? It’s unclear to me why the elite have decided to go after vaping, but the trend seems clear. I know people who vape daily without problems. The problem here seems to be under the counter products that contain all sorts of noxious chemicals, not over the counter products. If it’s only about health, then you would think vaping would be encouraged as a alternative to cigarettes, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Something is going on here and we probably won’t find out the truth for years.

  6. Vaping isn’t the problem. Vaping THC is the problem. Vaping saves lives. Vaping helps people get off cigarettes. Cigarettes can be deadly. Vaping not. Going after the vaping community is because of MONEY. Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and all the states lose money because of vaping. They don’t go after tobacco since the so-called settlement. The settlement did not help cigarette smokers. It only helped the states. I smoked for over 40yrs. I developed COPD. I tried everything to quit cigarettes but I failed. I started vaping soon after my diagnosis. I get my breathing checked twice a year. My pulmonologist was surprised that my lung function has improved. He knows I vape and has never asked me to stop. I don’t vape flavors though my husband does. CDC needs to go after the people selling the cartridges and juice with the THC and other chemicals. I am not that great at getting my thoughts out in writing them but I try.

  7. it’s prolly big tobacco sabotaging/tainting those products in order to ultimately smear Mary Wanna as a very baaaaaad drug. BS.

  8. Contrast this with the 70,000-90,000 deaths annually from hospital acquired infections. Add to that the hundreds of thousands who don’t die, but who suffer through the aggressive treatments and the associated costs. It’s only recently that the medical profession will even admit that the problem exists, let alone admit to their culpability….

  9. I started using vape products 2 years ago after smoking for 30 years. It’s so much better than smoking from a personal point of view that I picked up the device and 3 days later threw away my remaining cigarettes.
    I live in Michigan, where Governor Whitmer (I call her Queen Gretchen) recently pushed through an emergency order to ban all “flavored” vape cartridges. This was in reaction to the touted vape lung disease, and reportedly in an effort to keep our teenagers to stop vaping.
    I won’t even get into how angry I am at this miscarriage of government, or how twisted that logical path is, because it makes me crazy.

    Here’s my comment:
    I had to switch from mint flavored to tobacco flavored (because apparently tobacco isn’t a flavor) cartridges because my queen demanded it 2 weeks ago. A couple of days ago, it was a near miss for me to go to the emergency room with abdominal pain. I hadn’t eaten anything solid for 3 days, and finally cut out everything but water. After a night’s rest, my belly was OK, and I sat with my cup of water, looking at my morning news on my phone, and the pain started up again. It couldn’t be the water. The only other culprit I could identify was the vape cartridges. Quickly consulting the google research firm, I found that …. looka that …. lots of vapers were complaining that the tobacco flavored cartridges were causing abdominal discomfort and pain.
    I stopped using the device and found that within a couple of hours my pain subsided.
    Went to the store and got a different flavor of cartridge (now available because Queen Gretchen lost her first round in the courts). No reaction from the new cartridge.

    So….if the CDC is so concerned about people’s health around vaping, why don’t we know anything about this abdominal discomfort that people are reporting? Why are we being forced, by law, to choose the only iteration of the product that actually DOES cause health issues?

    What the hell is going on, here? Who’s actually driving this?

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