Snopes Warns Bogus Facebook Ecig Story Is a Lie

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Last month, a story surfaced on Facebook claiming that a woman died from complications of using an electronic cigarette. A woman posted a status update on June 27, claiming that her 67-year-old neighbor died from using “vapor ciggaretts” (sic) that had “coated the folliculs” (sic) of her lungs with oil. The woman said that after attending the neighbor’s funeral, she felt compelled to warn others about the dangers of ecigs.

When Snopes investigated the claims, there was no factual and trustworthy source to validate the story. The Facebook user is from Jacksonville according to her profile page, but she didn’t offer any information about whether her neighbor had other medical conditions or when she actually died. She did reference that the deceased woman was treated at Mayo and the physicians said her lungs were clear apart from the oil coating.

In all likelihood, this woman suffered from lipoid pneumonia, a serious condition that is actually very rarely associated with ecigarettes. It is commonly found in elderly patients with other medical problems or a history of “topical application or ingestion of lipids.”

There has previously only been one confirmed case of a lipoid pneumonia death in an ecig user. However, there was a lot of controversy about whether ecigs were actually the culprit or an easy target to blame. Another case from 2011 involved a UK man whose widow claimed he died from lipoid pneumonia after vaping “oil” in his ecig. This is a practice that is not acceptable and doesn’t even follow common sense. There have also been substantiated cases of patients that contracted this disease after inhaling crack cocaine mixed with petroleum jelly.

To further make this story sketchy, we have a concerning lack of details. The Facebook poster doesn’t share what kind of device her neighbor used, how long she had been vaping, and whether she was also smoking traditional cigarettes. There was also no mention of whether she used e-liquids or other oils. She failed to report on whether her neighbor was exposed to fumigation chemicals, which have commonly been linked to lipoid pneumonia.

Some believe inhaling ecig vapor could actually lead to lipoid pneumonia because they contain glycerin-based carrier liquids. However, scientists maintain that “glycerin is actually an alcohol (polyol) and thus it is impossible to cause lipoid pneumonia. Only oil-based liquids could be the cause for this condition; such liquids should not be used with (ecigs).”

In an effort to get to the bottom of the story, Snopes reached out to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, but received no response as of yet. There have also been no new reports that would verify that this Facebook user’s claims are true. It just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read on social media. Always double check the facts, look for sources, and make sure the information you are reading is unbiased and backed by real science.

Do you think the Facebook post was a prank, a misunderstanding, or a malicious attack on ecigs?

Dustin has been vaping for almost a decade. He found e-cigarettes in 2008 and quickly became drawn to them as an early adopter. He's been writing reviews ever since and has established himself as a well-versed authority on the subject.

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