Are EVALI Cases Actually Declining During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Were you or your child diagnosed with EVALI, or injured by a defective e-cigarette cartridge? Did your child become addicted to JUUL products prior to turning 18 and before November 2018? You may still qualify for compensation for your illness or injury. Contact an e-cig injury lawyer at Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys to learn more about filing a vape lawsuit.

It’s been over a year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the new lung disease called e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). This discovery came after emergency departments at hospitals across the country began reporting a significant increase in severe and even fatal lung infections in otherwise healthy people who had used vaping products.

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Symptoms of Vaping Illness

EVALI symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Tachypnea (rapid and shallow breathing) 

The growing prevalence of EVALI diagnoses led to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which ultimately determined that vitamin E acetate, an additive found in illicit THC vaping products and some e-cigarettes, was a likely culprit. While ingestion of vitamin E acetate in the form of supplements has been deemed safe, additional research uncovered that this additive may negatively affect the lungs when inhaled.

“Declining” EVALI cases and the COVID-19 Pandemic

CDC data collection on the EVALI outbreak came to a halt in February 2020, around the time of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, 2,807 people had been hospitalized with EVALI, and 68 people had died since August 2019. 

Now, more than nine months later, with over sixteen-million reported coronavirus infections in the United States, the question of whether or not cases of EVALI may still be sickening those who use vaping products is murkier than ever. Not only do EVALI and the novel coronavirus share similar symptoms, they can both sometimes lead to severe illness in those who are young and seemingly healthy.

What e-cig users should also be aware of is that an August 2020 study released by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than those who did not use e-cigarettes. This increased risk is significantly higher among teenagers and young adults who vape as some believe their age will protect them, when in reality each puff is damaging their lungs and making them more susceptible to ailments.

Addiction, Injury, and Illness: The Problem With Vaping

Vaping manufacturers like JUUL were already in hot water prior to the EVALI outbreak due to alleged marketing to underage consumers. To make matters worse, 63% of JUUL users surveyed by Truth Initiative in 2018 were not aware that JUUL products always contain nicotine, an addictive substance with potentially damaging side effects on young people. 

Long-Term Impacts of Nicotine Dependence 

Prior to October 2019, JUUL’S most popular vape flavors included mango, creme, fruit, and cucumber. Flavored cartridges other than tobacco and menthol have since been discontinued and banned by the FDA. 

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In addition, it came to light that the levels of nicotine found in JUUL’s  e-cigarette cartridges were excessive, with as much as 5% nicotine concentration in its e-liquid. For context, nicotine levels that high are generally intended for those with a smoking habit of two packs a day. 

As a result of JUUL’s inappropriate and misleading advertising of its products, thousands of teens and young adults have become addicted to nicotine.

Research published in Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine suggests that sustained nicotine consumption during adolescence can lead to cognitive and emotional problems later in life, including major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, addiction to other substances, and issues with memory.

Although the minimum age to purchase any tobacco product in the United States was raised to 21 years of age in 2019, thousands of young adults who developed debilitating nicotine addictions due to JUUL or other vaping products have been left with little recourse for their pain and suffering

Defective Vape Pens May Lead to Injury

Vaping products have also come under fire for a series of incidents involving exploding batteries which have resulted in burn injuries and broken bones. While many of these incidents appear to have been caused by user error or misuse (such as disabling safety features like fire button locks, mixing different brands of batteries, or incorrect charging), the risk of a manufacturing error or design flaw is still possible, especially as more and more brands of vape pens and products flood the market. If you suspect you were injured by a defective product such as a vape pen or battery, consult an e-cig injury lawyer to find out more about your legal rights.

Vaping Illness Still a Potential Threat

Although the CDC has stopped reporting cases of EVALI, young adults and parents should exercise extreme caution around vaping products and e-cigarettes. While vitamin E acetate has been definitively linked to cases of EVALI,  the FDA maintains that vape pens (especially those acquired illegally or through informal means) may still contain other potentially harmful chemicals that can lead to lung injury or illness.

Because no new data regarding EVALI during the coronavirus pandemic has been released, it is impossible to say whether or not EVALI could be potentially mistaken for COVID-19 symptoms or if this vaping-related illness has truly been brought under control. 

FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products Including Vapes

The FDA continues to monitor new vaping products, whose manufacturers must submit a Premarket Tobacco Application (PMTA) that includes scientific data proving the product in question “is appropriate for the protection of public health”. 

Manufacturers of new tobacco products that were on the market as of August 8, 2016 were also required to submit a tobacco product application by September 9, 2020. The FDA will review these applications in the coming months to determine whether the product is allowed to be marketed at all.

When To Contact an E-Cig Injury Lawyer

  • If you or your child was diagnosed with EVALI or another vape-related illness like pneumonia after using a legal e-cigarette product or THC vape pen, you could be eligible for compensation.
  • If you or your child was injured because of a defective vape battery or cartridge through no fault of your own, you may be able to file a vape lawsuit.
  • If you or your child became addicted to JUUL e-cigarettes prior to turning 18 years of age and before November 2018, a JUUL injury attorney may be able to assist you.

If any of the above apply to you or your child, contact a Louisiana e-cig injury lawyer or JUUL injury attorney at Mike Brandner Injury Attorneys today. Call us at any of the numbers listed below to arrange your free no obligation consultation regarding a potential vape lawsuit. The call is always free, and our attorneys collect no fee unless we make a financial recovery on your behalf. 

Looking for more information? Representatives are standing by to answer your questions via LiveChat. You can also request your complimentary case review online using this form.

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The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.