It is now apparent that, as many of us figured out months ago, the use of vitamin E acetate oil as a thickening agent in THC vaping cartridges and perhaps other counterfeit or adulterated black market vaping products is causing the vaping-associated respiratory illness outbreak. Nevertheless, the CDC and at least one prominent anti-e-cigarette researcher have not yet given up in their attempt to pin the outbreak on traditional e-cigarettes which they apparently despise.
The CDC continues to term this outbreak "E-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury." This is an extremely odd name, especially because of the strange and confusing use of the two commas which decimates the grammar of the name and is obviously contrived in an attempt to implicate traditional e-cigarettes. First of all, the name is redundant. By using the term "vaping," e-cigarettes would be included, as using an e-cigarette is a form of vaping. So the term "e-cigarettes" is completely unnecessary. Second, there is no evidence that "e-cigarettes" are involved in the outbreak. The original name the CDC gave to the outbreak was VARI ("vaping-associated respiratory illness). The fact that it changed the name to EVALI, even after having quite conclusive evidence that traditional e-cigarettes were not involved, suggests that the CDC was intentionally trying to use the outbreak to implicate traditional e-cigarettes, despite the lack of any hard evidence. That they are continuing to use this name even after finding that every confirmed case in which testing was done revealed vitamin E acetate in the lungs confirms that this term was chosen to intentionally confuse the public into believing that e-cigarettes are causing the outbreak.
In addition, now that its back is against the wall because the evidence is almost conclusive in demonstrating that traditional e-cigarettes are not involved, the CDC is resorting to an explanation for which there is absolutely no evidence: that not one, but two substances are causing the outbreak. And they continue to insist that no single compound is associated with the cases, which is not true based on their most recent findings.
Specifically, the CDC continues to state: "No one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these
illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of
This contriving of a new explanation for the outbreak in light of evidence that it is not related to traditional e-cigarettes is not restricted to the CDC. A prominent anti-e-cigarette researcher has also developed a new theory to explain the outbreak: it is caused by a synergistic effect between nicotine and vitamin E acetate oil.
Specifically, Dr. Stan Glantz writes: "E-cigarettes, whether THC or nicotine, deliver a wide range of
toxins to the lungs, several of whom are likely contributing to EVALI
and other adverse health effects.
In addition, as illustrated by the fact that nicotine metabolites
were detected in most of the people, there is always the possibility
that the THC and nicotine e-cigarettes are acting synergistically to
increase disease risk."
The Rest of the Story
It is now quite clear that the CDC and many opponents of the use of e-cigarettes for harm reduction were actually hoping that the outbreak was being caused by traditional e-cigarettes so that they could use the outbreak to further demonize these products. They used the outbreak as an excuse to implicate e-cigarettes and even when the evidence began pointing in a different direction, they didn't allow the evidence to sway their pre-conceived opinions or determination to put the blame on electronic cigarettes.
And now that their original theory has been blown out of the water, rather than acknowledge that the outbreak is due to a new thickening agent that was developed for use primarily in the black market THC vape cartridge industry, they are coming up with novel, contrived explanations in a last gasp attempt to be able to pin this on traditional e-cigarettes.
However, when 100% of case patients tested positive for vitamin E acetate oil, there is no need to invoke an alternative theory for which there is absolutely no evidence. There is no need to argue that there are two causes to the outbreak, nor is there even a shred of evidence that nicotine works synergistically to cause the reported lung injuries. This is not even a plausible explanation, as a large proportion of the cases occurred among patients who reported only using THC vape products (and these reports are trustworthy since the under-reporting is likely to be in the opposite direction).
It is interesting to analyze this story from a psychological lens. Doing that, I can only conclude that anti-e-cigarette researchers, health groups, and health agencies were actually hoping that the outbreak would be due to traditional e-cigarettes and I honestly think they are disappointed to find out that is not the case. But they are still not willing to concede defeat. They will invoke all kinds of contrived explanations to keep their fading hopes alive.