There is an inordinate amount of unjustified hysteria about the dangers of electronic cigarettes. And it continues to drive me crazy to read article after article which talks about how a 17-year-old youth almost died and had to be put on a ventilator for several days and then immediately transitions to a discussion of the health dangers of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, which dominates the remainder of the article. If you're lucky, there is at most one sentence which parenthetically notes that the youth was vaping THC.
It is also tremendously frustrating to read statement after statement from the CDC in which it notes that 89% of the outbreak case patients admitted to vaping THC obtained off the black market and then immediately undermines that point by emphasizing that "no single product" has been identified which explains 100% of the cases (as if an epidemiologic investigation ever finds a single common exposure).
Yet despite the general hysteria and the specific conflation of the respiratory disease outbreak with the problem of youth e-cigarette use, today's story has to take the cake.
The Rest of the Story
In an article by Milwaukee's NBC news station, a physician warns the public that a single puff of a nicotine e-cigarette could kill you.
Specifically, he is quoted as stating that: "It literally can kill you the first time you try it."
Perhaps he is talking about black market THC vape carts, which aren't going to kill you in one puff but could potentially lead to respiratory illness in a matter of days of use. In that case, perhaps this can be viewed as just severe exaggeration.
But later in the article, we find out that is not the case. He is quoted as stating: "Probably most of them [the case patients] we see are nicotine. There's really no one particular substrate that causes it."
This goes way beyond exaggeration. It is blatantly lying to the public. The truth is that 89% of the case patients nationally have admitted to vaping THC, and black market THC products have been found to contain large amounts of vitamin E acetate oil. Both the FDA and the CDC agree that the predominant cause of the outbreak is the vaping of THC-containing liquids, not nicotine liquids.
The rest of the story is that according to this physician, smoking must be much safer than using e-cigarettes. After all, it typically takes three or four decades before smoking causes disease, but an e-cigarette can kill you after just a single puff.