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How the vaping industry is using a defensive tactic pioneered decades ago by big tobacco

16 October 2019 Sarah Milov - Time

Each week brings a new story of some calamity brought by vaping.

In late July, a Connecticut man filed suit against e-cigarette giant Juul Labs after suffering a massive stroke. The suit alleges that he became addicted while he was still a high schooler, even though the company says it is specifically taking action to prevent young people from trying the product. In August, an Illinois patient died after vaping, succumbing to a mysterious respiratory illness; news broke teens in the Midwest hospitalized with severe and unexplained respiratory symptoms; and the FDA announced that that it was investigating the relationship between e-cigarette use and seizure risk. On Oct. 2, authorities in Alabama announced the latest vaping-related death, bringing the national toll to 17. Meanwhile, the CDC has confirmed, as of Sept. 27, 805 cases of lung injury related to vaping.

Death and disease are serious. So too are the staggering rates of use among young people.

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 20% of US high schoolers vaped in 2018—an alarming increase of 78% over the previous year. Preliminary data from this year’s survey suggest a continued rise in youth e-cigarette use. Recent studies suggest that young people who vape are more likely to become smokers. Public health officials warn of an epidemic, the full consequences of which are not yet known.