Two deaths and 450 cases of respiratory illnesses have now been reported in the USA, which as you have probably seen, the mainstream media has blamed on vaping.

Nothing could be further from the truth – but as always the anti-vape media has ignored the science and gone straight for the vaping jugular.

illicit thc cartridges

So what is the science behind this? And are these tragic deaths and illnesses really caused by vaping?

It’s a case of yes and no.

What we know for certain and the probability is high – indeed almost 100% – the real cause is street bought illicit black-market vape cartridges containing additives known to be toxic under certain conditions.

In this case, the predominant link appears to be Vitamin E acetate – also known as tocopheryl acetate. This is used regularly as a nutritional supplement in the form of an oil and is not known to cause harm when ingested.

However, scientists say that when heated and turned into vapour, it could and probably has caused damage to the lungs. Because once it enters the body in that form – it quickly resorts back to its oily substance.

It goes without saying, the consequences of this affecting the lungs is obvious.

State Health Watchdogs Respond To The Outbreak

New York’ State Department of Health officials say they have seen 34 respiratory illnesses, and are carrying out detailed tests on suspect THC cartridges.

The team is looking for everything from pesticides to synthetic cannabinoids, and say a link between the street bought THC cartridges and vitamin E acetate is emerging.

new york state wadsworth centre

A spokesman said:


At least one Vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing.

These samples have been tested for a range of substances, including THC and other cannabis-derived cannabinoids, nicotine, synthetic cannabinoids, opioids, and pesticides.

Products tested include a variety of labels and packaging.

Many are suspected to be counterfeits of recreational cannabis-containing vape products available in other states.

There can be little doubt there is a huge consignment of deadly THC and God knows what laced vape cartridges out there and I’ll let you know what to look out for in a moment.

Top Health Official Says “Stop Vaping Now”

Meanwhile the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] has urged vapers to consider stopping vaping altogether until the cause is uncovered.

Without making light of the deaths or indeed illnesses, that’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, especially given there’s no report of shop-bought nicotine infused – pods – cartridges or indeed bottles of e-liquid causing this health issue.

CDC vape deaths

However, Robert R. Redfield MD, director of the CDC, suggested vapers stop vaping now:

We are committed to finding out what is making people sick.

All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.

A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] told the media:

…more information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses.

We are looking into potential leads regarding any particular constituent or compound that may be at issue.

No one substance, including Vitamin E acetate, has been identified in all of the samples tested.

Importantly, identifying any compounds that are present in the samples will be one piece of the puzzle but will not necessarily answer questions about causality.

The results from the FDA’s laboratory analysis will be shared with the respective states to aid in their investigations and will help further inform the federal response.

Despite all this, as you’ve no doubt seen, read or heard, the mainstream media is ignoring the facts and the science and creating yet another hysterical panic among vapers and indeed the public.

The public’s perception of vaping is I’m sad to say – particularly in America – at an all-time low. Indeed being the old cynic that I am, the timing given the hysterical levels of the US anti-vape brigade, is curious…

The voice of reason came from this Tweet from Louise Ross, the Vice Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance:

Sadly I think that bus has long gone – the media has now forever linked vaping with deadly diseases and even none smoking never vaped friends on my social media sites are warning me of the ‘dangers’.

Sad…but true.

What You Need To Know About the Deadly THC Cartridges

According to the website Leafly – an excellent and expert source for all things to do with cannabis – another factor could be a dangerous diluent that hit the scene last year.

Known as Honey Cut this product is used to thin THC e-liquid without losing its viscosity.

New York State Department of Health)
Image via New York State DOH

A recent investigation by Leafly showed Honey Cut contained Vitamin E oil and worryingly other brands they’ve looked at are also using it.

The website has produced a superb article: Vape Pen Lung Disease: Here’s What You Need to Know – and I urge you to read it.

They tell what symptoms to look out for, and add the names of some of the alleged ‘dangerous’ THC infused cartridge brands to look out for, urging anyone who’s bought a THC cartridge off the black market to dispose of it immediately:

Health officials have confirmed that among the tainted carts are ones with the brand names Chronic Carts, Dank Vapes, and West Coast Carts, but the condition is linked to multiple illicit market brands across multiple states.

This is an unfolding nightmare, to say the least, and it goes without saying we’ll keep you updated on any information that comes in.

Whilst I’m no doctor, I will say that shop-bought well known branded e-liquids are pretty much 100% safe – despite a tiny amount of respiratory illnesses claiming to be caused by nicotine-based juice. And please buy CBD infused e-liquids from reputable sources sticking to well-known brands.

Just be careful and of course, sensible, on what you’re vaping on, and most importantly where you’re buying it from.

Neil Humber
I began vaping in 2012 and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit! DTL: Lost Vape DNA75C BF - Dead Rabbit SQ - MTL: JacVapour Sandstorm DNA 75 + Savour RTA...Beater set-up Lost Vape DNA 250c and Reload RTA I'm a former journalist and now a writer and author.. I'm an Army veteran - adore dogs and never happier than with a good book on a beach.

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