Recent media articles have been quick to report on the 380 illness and up to seven unfortunate deaths which have been directly linked to vaping. What the media haven’t been so open about is these incidents have not been down to traditional E-Cigarettes. All these cases have one similarity, the use of THC oil cartridges purchased from the black market and not regular E-Liquids containing nicotine.
Unfortunately, some people have been manufacturing THC cartridges in US states where cannabis is still illegal. These counterfeit cartridges are contaminated with a cheap dilutent called Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate) which is a form of acetic acid. This molecule is created by separating the tocopheryls from vegetable oil or made synthetically from petroleum.
Tocopheryl Acetate is primarily used (safely) in products such as skin lotions, foot creams and other cosmetics for the purpose of lightening skin and attacking blemishes. But it has never been suggested as an inhalant by the cosmetics industry, due to its highly toxic properties when heated. To further this, any oil or lipids in the lungs has been linked to lung industry for years, so the addition of this specific structure was a terrible idea, to begin with.
So where does this leave vaping E-Liquids and E-cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes have been helping people to quit smoking traditional tobacco for roughly 10+ years now and all without issue, yet the media have always been favouring articles which paint vaping in a darker light. E-Cigarettes are at least 95% a healthier alternative to cigarettes and have caused no health-related injuries directly (according to the .gov site)
In fact, no E-Liquid manufactured (to my knowledge) contains anything more than Polypropylene Glycol (aerosol used in inhalers), Vegetable Glycerine (plant-based sugar alcohol), Nicotine (natural, minor stimulant from the tobacco plant) & USP grade flavourings. You’ll notice Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate) never makes an appearance on the back of your E-Liquid bottles, luckily.
So in short, E-Cigarettes are not killing people when used for the right purpose. Using vape devices to use illegal drugs is the cause of these issues. To make sure you arent the next patient with a vape related illness, stay away from cheap cannabis cartridges and ensure you purchase legitimate products from the manufacturer. Unfortunately, in the UK cannabis is still illegal so we would recommend staying away from it entirely.