By Ravena Rampersaud and Nina Chhabra on October 15, 2019
Electronic cigarettes, also known as, “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)” have become very popular in the last 10 years. Electronic cigarettes deliver an aerosolized liquid containing nicotine, flavorings, marijuana and other substances1. They were introduced to aid in traditional cigarette smoking cessation, however, today its use has become much more widespread2. “Vaping” has become a popular trend among teenagers and young adults in the United States. Long-term effects of electronic cigarettes have been relatively unknown but recent cases of pulmonary illness have been linked to electronic cigarette use. Affected persons reported symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the public avoid using electronic cigarette products and all vape pens while investigation into the recent cases of pulmonary illness is ongoing. The investigation has not yielded results on a single causative substance or particular electronic cigarette product. Over 380 cases of lung illness, including 6 confirmed deaths, possibly due to electronic cigarette use have been reported as of September 11, 20191. In many of the reported cases, patients reported using “vapes” containing nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabinoid (CBD) oils 3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and local states have been testing “vaping” products as a part of their investigation. Many of the samples tested have been revealed to contain THC and high concentrations of Vitamin E acetate. Currently, Vitamin E acetate is available as a topical product and dietary supplement, however, there is not enough data to understand its effects upon inhalation. Although the FDA has not directly linked Vitamin E acetate inhalation as the cause of electronic cigarette-related pulmonary illness, they recommend the public avoid inhaling this substance as a precaution. As per their recommendation, consumers should avoid purchasing “vaping” products on the street, and refrain from using THC oil or adulterating store bought products4. With this growing epidemic of electronic cigarette use, especially in teenagers and young adults, it is imperative that we are cautious with the products that are being sold and utilized in the market. The CDC and the FDA encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected tobacco- or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal4.
Although there have been no cases of vape related illness from products dispensed from a MEDICAL dispensary, it is best to contact your dispensary and/or your certifying practitioner for further assistance.
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Please note the above uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consumers should consult with their health care provider before taking any new medication or dietary supplement — especially pregnant or nursing mothers, children under 18, and individuals with a known medical condition.
Nina Chhabra earned her doctorate in pharmacy from St. John's University in New York. Prior to her becoming a Natural Medicines Specialist, she worked in a community pharmacy and as an inpatient pharmacist, focusing on diabetes and heart failure. She has served on the New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists and has given continuing education lectures regarding diabetes treatment to her peers.