The CDC had previously urged people to consider refraining from the use of all e-cigarette or vaping products while it investigated vaping-related deaths and lung disease.
In its updated guidance, the CDC said it is now focusing on vapes and vape products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana, as national and state data suggests they “are linked to most cases” of a lung disease named EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury), and “play a major role in the outbreak.”
As of Jan. 14, there have been 2,668 hospitalized cases of vaping-related illnesses and at least 60 deaths across the country, the CDC said.
While hospitalizations have slowed since peaking in September, new cases and deaths are still being reported.
The CDC found that “82 percent of hospitalized patients with data on substance use reported using THC-containing products; 33 percent reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.”
The agency also warned people against acquiring “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.”
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects and has a similar structure to the brain chemical anandamide, allowing the body to recognize THC and alter normal brain communication, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Vitamin E acetate
The CDC said that vitamin E acetate, an oil chemical used to dilute THC, is also “strongly linked” to the EVALI outbreak and “has been found in product samples tested by FDA and state laboratories and in patient lung fluid samples tested by CDC from geographically diverse states.
“Vitamin E acetate has not been found in the lung fluid of people that do not have EVALI,” it said.
“Vitamin E acetate should not be added to any e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Additionally, people should not add any other substances not intended by the manufacturer to products, including products purchased through retail establishments,” it added.
However, the CDC noted that it did not have sufficient evidence “to rule out the contribution of other chemicals of concern, including chemicals in either THC or non-THC products, in some of the reported EVALI cases.”
Non-Smokers Advised Against Vaping
Elsewhere, the CDC continues to warn against e-cigarette and vape use by youths, young adults, and pregnant women, while adults who do not already use tobacco products are advised not to start using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. E-cigarettes have been marketed as tools to help people quit smoking.
In December, it was reported that The Food and Drug Administration would be banning the sale of all-flavored e-cigarette pods except for menthol and tobacco, in a bid to curb the surge in underage youths vaping using pod-based vaporizers.