By Michaela Carrieri
An e-cigarette used to be promoted as a healthier alternative to smoking cigars and cigarettes. The e-cigarette under Massachusetts law is described as any product that can deliver nicotine by inhaling. The product was specifically made for liquid nicotine consumption and is only sold to people who are 21 years or older, unless you were 18 years old before December 31, 2018.
Throughout the past couple of years, college students are more interested in buying these products. The term has referred to now as vaping and there are now liquid marijuana cartridges for the device as well. Since the product has been at such high demand, especially for young adults who do not have much income, it is now being distributed on the black market. Because the cost of THC (the chemical in marijuana) is increasingly expensive, black market sellers cut the THC vaping oil with Vitamin E to increase their profits at half the cost.
The potential issue that is related to sudden illnesses from vaping is the oil in the cartridge. The oil gets into a person’s lungs and causes severe respiratory issues. E-cigarettes that have cannabidiol oil also contains a supplement of Vitamin E. When sold on the black market, which is not what the original e-cigarette was designed for. The oils in the lungs cause a reaction which causes the body to believe that there is a foreign object inside of it. The lungs then become immediately inflamed and buildup liquids. As for the collection of oil inside a person’s lungs, there has been reported over 400 illnesses and 6 deaths from it. Because of this rapidly increasing issue, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker just called for a temporary statewide ban of all e-cigarettes and vaping products as of September 24, 2019. The ban will be upheld until January 25, 2020, during that time the state with consult with physicians on how to understand the vaping illnesses better and how to address this issue.
This rapid increase in illnesses and deaths seems to be a naïve standpoint in the nation. The issue with this vaping concern is not just the black-market products that have Vitamin E oil in them but also the consumers who use these products. Many people who use these products think it is a “fad” and that it looks appealing. Though these e-cigarettes could be helpful for cutting back on smoking regular cigars or cigarettes, there has been an increase of young adults who are getting sick from this. Young adults are more of the people who are getting sick are and who seem to never have had a smoking issue and just like the idea of vaping. Furthermore, because consumers are a younger generation, they stray more to a cheaper product that can cause questionable illnesses compared to buying a more expensive cartridge that is regulated and produced correctly.
What is the best idea? For starters, creating commercials similar to the ones involving the effects of smoking that can scare viewers into not using those products. The clients who use these products need to understand that vaping, in general, is mainly supposed to be used for people who are trying to quit smoking cigars and cigarettes. Though these commercials still might not be enough, then there would need to be a nationwide announcement that the cartridges need to be bought from a dispensary or an FDA approved store to avoid potentially fatal risks. Another option that might be beneficial for health and safety but could hurt the economy is to lower the prices of cartridges, especially the THC cartridges. One of the main reasons why young adults are developing these illnesses is because they do not buy expensive cartridges from an FDA approved dispensary. The more affordable option could cause serious health risks and some people do not mind taking that chance because they do not think anything bad will happen. Though the price reduction could cause an economical issue, logically it seems like the best option as of now to have people stop buying from the black market.
Though the ban on e-cigarettes and vaping products was supposed to be beneficial to the health and safety of consumers, it seems it is more detrimental than expected. Many consumers will still want to get the vaping cartridges and will look anywhere to buy them, especially to the black market. Which is a quicker and more affordable place to receive these products. The ban may just push people towards buying more of the cartridges that cause illnesses and deaths. The best thing to do is to warn the public about the effects of non-FDA approved cartridges and see if there is any approach to treating the already ill consumers.
Student Bio: Michaela Carrieri is in her second year at Suffolk University of Law School. She is an active member of the Journal of High Technology. She went to her undergraduate school at High Point University in North Carolina and studied International Business and Italian. She now resides in her home state of Massachusetts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of JHTL or Suffolk University Law School.