Thursday, 12 September 2019

Radio NZ on vaping, again

The Washington Post notes the growing consensus around just what the heck is going on with 'vaping-related' illness and death. Like I'd said last week, dodgy additives in THC vapes look to be the issue. You don't have to be paying massive attention to this file to know this.
Oregon health officials said last week that a middle-aged adult who died of a severe respiratory illness in late July had used an electronic cigarette containing marijuana oil from a legal dispensary. It was the first death tied to a vaping product bought at a pot shop. Illinois and Indiana reported deaths in adults but officials have not provided information about their ages or what type of products were used.

State and federal health authorities are focusing on the role of contaminants or counterfeit substances as a likely cause of vaping-related lung illnesses — now up to at least 450 possible cases in 33 states.

Officials are narrowing the possible culprits to adulterants in vaping products purported to have THC.

The sudden onset of these mysterious illnesses and the patients’ severe and distinctive symptoms have led investigators to focus on contaminants, rather than standard vaping products that have been in wide use for many years.

One potential lead is the oil derived from vitamin E, known as vitamin E acetate. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States. That same chemical was also found in nearly all cannabis samples from patients who fell ill in New York in recent weeks, a state health department spokeswoman said.

On Monday, New York state officials said they are issuing subpoenas to three companies the department has identified as selling “thickening agents” containing high levels of vitamin E that can be used in black market vaping products that contain THC. Dealers have been using thickening agents to dilute THC oil in street and illicit products, industry experts said.
I like that the Post uses the basic plausibility check. If this really were about nicotine vaping, which has been around for a long time, why would there suddenly be a pile of hospitalisations? This is new over the past year. They might yet find cases that look certain to be nicotine-only, but it's a tough one to prove: they've certainly found dodgy stuff in the THC cartridges that sick folks have brought with them to hospital, but not everyone who has used a THC cartridge will want to admit to it.

The best advice remains to buy your vaping product from a source you can trust. And to follow Michael Siegel (Twitter) and Clive Bates to keep up with the state of play. I like Action on Smoking and Health NZ, but they haven't really been putting up updates on the US state of play.

Meanwhile, here's how Radio NZ has continued to play the story.
US President Donald Trump has announced that his administration will ban flavoured e-cigarettes, after a spate of vaping-related deaths.

Mr Trump told reporters vaping was a "new problem", especially for children.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would finalise a plan to take all non-tobacco flavours off the market.

There have been six deaths across 33 states and 450 reported cases of lung illness tied to vaping.

Many of the 450 reported cases are young people, with an average age of 19.

Michigan this month became the first US state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes.

Joining Mr Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Mr Azar said it would take the FDA several weeks to distribute the new guidance on e-cigarettes.
Everything in the RNZ reporting makes it seem that the illness is around e-cigarettes rather than vaped dodgy THC.

I expect this is deliberate. It is lying through omission. So I've put in another complaint, this time around accuracy.

RNZ has been on a campaign against vaping for some time. RNZ demonised Marewa Glover's harm reduction efforts. They gave ample airtime to attacks on her. Their reporting on vaping is consistently conflating illness in the US due to dodgy and counterfeit THC product with the kind of vaping people in NZ are familiar with. And they are doing it when the regulatory framework is soon to be announced, helping to fuel a moral panic that will lead to worse regulatory outcomes.

I don't know why RNZ is like this. But RNZ is like this. I wish that I weren't compelled to pay, through my taxes, for their dishonest reporting.

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