US opens criminal probe into vaping illnesses

World Today

The U.S. government is opening a criminal probe into vaping products. So far, the number of e-cigarette users getting sick is up to 530, and seven have died. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is looking into the cause of the illnesses.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports on the backlash against vaping– a technology that’s promoted as being less harmful than tobacco.

The e-cigarette industry is under pressure—there’s a growing backlash against vaping.

An outbreak of lung disease among users of electronic cigarettes has led to a string of deaths as well as hundreds of people, including many teenagers, being hospitalized.

National and local leaders, from U.S. President Donald Trump to Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, are ready to step in.

Lightfoot is among those calling for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway for children to get addicted to nicotine.

“The flavors are what makes students think this is an innocuous product that it is just something that kind of tastes good,” said Ana Pavlivich, a high school principal at Amundsen. “The students often tell us there isn’t anything to this it really is just oil and a flavor. It is like drinking a Kool-Aid, when we know that it is not.”

The U.S. states of Michigan and New York have already banned flavored vape products. India has opted for a complete ban on all electronic cigarettes.

The global e-cigarette industry is estimated to be worth almost $20 billion, with a huge array of products now available. But some say the backlash against vaping is not justified.

A recent U.K. government study estimates that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco.

Larry Eng opened Level Vape in Chicago five years ago. He fears former cigarette smokers will now return to their old habits.

“Unfortunately, it has scared a lot of people,” said Eng. “So a lot of people have probably just continued to just smoke cigarettes because at least they know the outcome of that. Because they are misinformed as to what the real reason is for people getting sick.”

Many of the illnesses across the U.S. have been linked to those who use e-cigarettes to vape THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

But Jonathan Klein at the University of Illinois at Chicago believes the risk to all vapers remains.

“From a medical and public health perspective, vaping has become an epidemic,” said Jonathan Klein, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “And we have seen the rates go from 3% a year, up to now the latest surveys in secondary schools, high schools, are showing rates of 25% to 30%. They are people who are never smokers, becoming addicted to these products as their first entry to nicotine.”

Is vaping still safer than smoking tobacco? Professor Brad Rodu explains

Professor Brad Rodu of the University of Louisville and the Senior Fellow of Heartland Institute discusses the latest probe into illnesses related to vaping with CGTN’s Elaine Reyes. Are e-cigarettes still safer than smoking regular cigarettes?