Vaping Causes Deaths


Illustration by Aaron Toney

Ava McPhillips, Sports Editor

   Even in our own Big Sky, every person knows at least one person who vapes. Still with vaping has been linked to severe lung illnesses in more than 1,300 cases including 26 deaths around 30% of the Big Sky students surveyed said that they vape at least once a week. Cases have been reported in 46 states and 1 U.S. territory. Montana just reported its first case in Yellowstone County.

   These illnesses have been reported to the CDC from 33 states and the US Virgin Islands. Previous to this most recent death in Kansas, deaths had been reported in California, Illinois. Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon. Although federal investigators haven’t found a cause, all reported cases have indicated the use of vaping products and some patients diagnosed with these lung problems have reported using e-cigarettes containing cannabis products, like THC.

   According to a 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 11.7% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. This is compared to in 2011 where 1.5% of high school and 0.6% of middle school students reported using these products.

   A lot of young e-cigarette users are unaware of what is in the products that they are using. According to Truth Initiative, “A recent study found that 98.7% of all e-cigarette products sold at convenience stores, gas stations and supermarkets contain nicotine.” Even though this is true, many young people using vape products aren’t aware that they use most likely contain amounts of nicotine. In fact, 60% of teens incorrectly reported e-cigarettes as being made up of mostly flavoring.

    E-cigarette’s younger users report that flavors are one of the main reasons that they started using e-cigarettes. A study that included middle and high schoolers found that 43% of young people who use or have used e-cigarettes tried them because of the tempting flavors.

   The real problem is that teens don’t believe it’s a real risk to them. One Big Sky senior, who asked to remain anonymous, says that the people getting sick are the people using the THC vaping products. She also says that those are the ones that are the real danger. 

   This is not true at all; so far doctors have not found a cause. Even though they suspect that THC products are causing the illnesses they don’t have enough evidence to confirm it yet. According to the CDC, 16% of the 514 patients interviewed, said that 30 days before their symptoms they used exclusively nicotine-containing products. This is contrary to the scientist’s findings that THC is causing the illnesses. 

   On October 8th our governor announced a temporary ban of 120 days after at least 2 vaping related illnesses have been reported in Montana. This ban covered all sales of flavored nicotine, THC and CBD vaping, in-store and online. But on the 18th, Ravalli County District Judge Jennifer Lint signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting Gov. Steve Bullock and state health officials from carrying out emergency rules on flavored vaping products, according to the Great Falls Tribune. Lint signed this after 3 vape shops and an industry group filed a lawsuit. They claimed that the ban “is an overly restrictive reaction to a national outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths they say is caused by illegal black-market products.” 

   And that doesn’t mean that other vaping products kids are using are safe and healthy. We still do not know what goes into the vape juice and the long term effects it has on our bodies.  

   Recently the Washington State Board of Health banned flavored vape products with a 120-day emergency ban. Opponents argued that vaping helped them quit smoking and that banning these products would run the small businesses that sell the juice out of business. During the meeting and voting session board member emphasized that, although it is a challenging and sensitive topic, the safety of our country’s youth outweighs these concerns.