With nicotine vaping still being wrongly blamed for the US EVALI deaths and lung injuries of 2019, will tobacco harm reduction opponents ever listen?
Three years after the EVALI outbreak began in the US, a major new study has concluded that the condition was NOT caused by vaping nicotine.
The illness claimed 68 lives and saw almost 3,000 hospital admissions with patients suffering from unexplained chest pain and breathing difficulties.
US public health agency the CDC was quick to blame vaping and named the illness EVALI – E-cigarette, or Vaping, product useAssociated Lung Injury.
Even when it was determined that EVALI was caused by vaping black market THC oils contaminated with vitamin E acetate (VEA), vaping nicotine was still blamed.
Now a new study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review has concluded that vaping nicotine was not the cause of the deaths and illnesses.
Lead author, Dr Colin Mendelsohn, said despite VEA being the source of the illness, vaping nicotine was also held responsible.
“Vaping opponents, including the Australian government and state health departments, have continued to maintain fear and doubt that vaping nicotine also causes EVALI. “VEA is not soluble in nicotine e-liquids and has never been detected in nicotine e-liquids.
Dr Mendelsohn, the founding Chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association, added:
“No chemicals in nicotine vapes have been identified which could cause EVALI. “Unfounded claims that nicotine vaping caused EVALI have been used to justify restrictive policies to reduce the uptake of vaping and this has been harmful to public health.”
The study highlighted that 14 percent of vapers with EVALI denied vaping THC, which led to the assumption that nicotine vapes were also to blame.
However, Dr Mendelsohn said people often denied using THC (especially where it is illegal) and said that investigations had found that this was also true of the EVALI outbreak.
He went on:
“Some THC vapers initially claimed to have used nicotine-only but were later found to have used THC. “Furthermore, there have been no verified cases of EVALI from vaping nicotine before, during or after the outbreak and the composition of nicotine vaping liquids has remained unchanged during this time.”
In Australia the federal Health Department website continues to incorrectly link nicotine vaping with EVALI. The government has not updated the site despite 31 Australian health professionals writing to the Chief Medical Officer to point out that their advice was inaccurate.
In light of the new research, Dr Mendelsohn has called on the Australian government and the media to ‘correct the continued miscommunication’ about the causes of the EVALI outbreak.
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