In an American Heart Association (AHA) "scientific statement" published this week in the journal Circulation, the AHA continues to confuse the public about the so-called EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury) outbreak that occurred in 2019, suggesting that it may be due to "flavoring agents," "viruses," or "bacteria" and that no specific agent has been identified as the cause.
Despite the fact that vitamin E acetate was found in a miraculous 94% of bronchoalveolar lavage fluids of EVALI patients, that no putative contaminant has ever been found in a non-tainted nicotine-containing e-cigarette, that the outbreak subsided quickly after illicit drug makers removed vitamin E acetate from THC oils, and that not a single EVALI case was ever demonstrated to be attributable to a store-bought (i.e., legal) electronic cigarette, the AHA continues to cloud the public's mind about the outbreak, leaving open the hysterical claim that legal e-cigarettes may cause devastating and deadly lung disease.
Perhaps more troubling, the AHA fails to make any recommendation to educate youth about the dangers of using THC vaping products, to educate youths so that they understand that vaping THC does have potentially deadly risks, or to run any public education campaign to publicize the widely recognized conclusion of the FDA that EVALI was caused specifically by vitamin E acetate oil that was added as a thickening agent to THC black-market vaping products.
Instead, by continuing to obscure the connection between THC vaping and EVALI, the AHA suggests that EVALI may be caused by legal, store-bought, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. This undermines the important public health message that youths need: do not vape black market THC vapes off the street (or from any source). Why is it that an organization that is supposedly committed to reducing heart and lung disease would refuse to warn youth about the dangers of vaping THC products? The only apparent explanation is that this would undermine the public hysteria created by the AHA and other groups about the links between e-cigarettes and severe lung disease.
In addition to its difficulty acknowledging the truth about the lack of evidence that legal e-cigarettes pose any risk of severe, life-threatening, acute lung injury, the AHA continues to repeat other hysterical claims, such as that e-cigarettes can cause popcorn lung. This despite the absence of any cases of bronchiolitis obliterans having been reported in any e-cigarette user, not to mention the lack of evidence that popcorn lung is a problem in actual, real cigarette smokers.
The Rest of the Story
The real clincher comes near the end of the article, when - after scaring the public about all the severe, acute and chronic lung diseases that can supposedly be caused by e-cigarettes, the AHA finally tells the truth, acknowledging that the actual science precludes them from validly going beyond the weak statement that: "claims that ENDS products present absolutely no health risks are false according to the limited, but growing, evidence available."
So the rest of the story is that the best the AHA can muster up based on solid science is that e-cigarettes are not completely harmless! I could have told you that in 2007 when they were first introduced to the U.S. market and only a handful of safety studies had been conducted.
So now, 17 years later and after millions of dollars have been spent trying to tie e-cigarette use to every possible adverse effect under the sun, the most that the AHA can say is that based on the limited evidence available, we can conclude that e-cigarettes are not 100% safe!
The subterfuge here is so blatant and the contrast between the science-based statements and hysteria-based statements so vivid that one has to question the intent of the organization. Is it truly trying to save the lives of adolescents who are at the greatest risk, or is it trying to drum up as much possible hysteria about e-cigarettes in the minds of the public?
I'll suggest one thing: if the true aim is to try to save the lives of adolescents who are at the greatest risk, any further confusion of the public about the fact that EVALI was due to illegal, black market, THC vapes is irresponsible. This generation of youth needs to be warned about the risks of vaping black market products they obtain from friends or off the street, especially those which contain THC. Hiding this message only puts them at the greatest risk of harm from vaping products.