CDC Confirms Cannabis The Culprit In Outbreaks


Illegally Produced Cannabis Oil Cartridges Spiked With Vitamin E Acetate Responsible For Outbreaks, The Agency Finds

Vaping has faced a turbulent couple of months that have seen a shift in public opinion and the regulatory landscape surrounding it. While things aren’t exactly on an uptick, there have been developments over the past couple of weeks that have marked the beginning of a shift toward a more rational and centered climate surrounding vaping.

Following the Trump administration backing away from a proposed federal ban on flavored vapor products, the country’s largest public health agency has finally stepped forward to clear up some of the confusion they willingly created in the first place. On November 21st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement that recent lab results identified vitamin E acetate, an additive not found in nicotine vapor products, in all patient samples tested.

Public health officials throughout the country have praised the clarification in messaging from the country’s largest public health agency. They note that the agencies’ initial vague statements warning people to avoid e-cigarettes specifically may have exacerbated the outbreak, as the most at-risk users of cannabis oil cartridges may not have thought they were at any risk at all.

CDC Clarifies Confusion

On November 21st, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement noting recent findings in their investigation of “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury.” Most notably, the agency stated that recent testing on fluid samples collected from 29 patients in 10 states found vitamin E acetate to be present in all samples.

Vitamin E acetate is commonly used in cosmetic products such as skin creams, but unscrupulous dealers have been using it as a cutting agent in illegally produced cannabis oil cartridges. While perfectly safe for topical application or ingestion, vaping vitamin E acetate produces oil that ends up getting inhaled by the user, which poses the risk of causing serious injury.

The CDC had initially issued vague statements warning against e-cigarettes and vaping as a whole, which some public health officials contend may have exacerbated the outbreaks by making illegal cannabis cartridge users believe they’re not at risk. Thankfully, the CDC has updated its messaging to specify THC-containing products as the culprit, and for people to avoid informal sources such as people met on the street or online.

Many have decried the agency for the confusion caused by a lack of clear and distinct messaging, with some going as far as to claim you would be able to get better information from a vape shop owner than the country’s top health agency. “It should be a source of embarrassment that the public would be better informed on this issue if they listened to a vape shop owner or a cannabis website rather than the nation’s top public health authority.” said Guy Bentley of the Reason Foundation.

Truth About Vaping

There is quantifiable data noting the confusion and harm to public perception that the CDC has created around vaping. A national survey conducted in September found that as much as 58% of adults believed the outbreaks were caused by nicotine-containing vapor products, with only 22% believing that vaping is less harmful than smoking.

This is, of course, outright ignorance, as there is an extensive body of research noting the reduced harm e-cigarettes pose compared to cigarettes. A landmark study conducted by Public Health England found vaping to be 95% safer than smoking, a figure the country’s top public health agency routinely stands behind.

Not only does vaping pose significantly reduced harm compared to smoking, but research shows that it may be our greatest tool in smoking cessation and combating the smoking epidemic. Research out of the University of Louisville found vaping to be the most effective smoking cessation device available, more than going cold-turkey or even prescription options such as Chantix.

In addition, there is no evidence noting any long-term harm or risk to users of e-cigarettes and other vapor products. A report released by the National Academy of Sciences not only found that vaping is safer than smoking, but that there were no long-term health effects associated with prolonged use.


There is still much work to be done moving forward in helping to shift the public perception and the regulatory climate surrounding vaping. In addition to the Trump administration backing away from a proposed federal flavor ban, this clarification by the CDC may help to indicate a turning point in the attempted war on vaping.

While the move may signal a shift in momentum for the better, the industry must remain vigilant and civically engaged in helping continue that momentum and ensure safe access to proven smoking cessation devices by adult smokers. Anti-vaping advocates have proven to be relentless in the war against vaping and will not stop their attempts at prohibition; in turn, the industry and community must not stop pushing back against these attempts.

Do you feel the CDC’s lack of clear messaging may have worsened the vaping crisis? How do you feel about the agency’s statement finally clarifying the culprit? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!

(Image Credit – Pixabay –

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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