Will The Latest E-Cig Death Start To Change How We Think About Vaping?

Will The Latest E-Cig Death Start To Change How We Think About Vaping?

Two people have died from exploding e-cigs and teens are getting hooked at an alarming rate....but they're still unregulated in most of the United States.


An exploding e-cigarette just took the life of a young man in Texas, reigniting a years-long discussion about vaping safety. News outlets say William Brown was in the parking lot of a vape and smoke shop on January 27th when his e-cigarette exploded, shot through his neck, and tore his left carotid artery. He was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma, where he died two days later. X-rays following the explosion showed a piece of the e-cigarette lodged in his throat. Brown was just weeks away from his 25th birthday when he died.

Investigators say the vape pens' battery caused the explosion. The battery inside e-cigarettes heats a liquid nicotine solution to create an aerosol that's inhaled like cigarettes. E-cigarette explosion lawyers say these batteries are known to explode and cause fire and serious injuries. More than 120 lawsuits have been filed so far, and that number is growing with each new product that hits the market.

Juuls are changing the scene around young people, as they're starting to become as commonplace as cell phones. They're small, flavorful, and look like a USB drive - making them very easy to hide in plain sight. If you haven't tried a Juul, I bet at least one of your friends has. And I bet at least one of their friends keeps a Juul in their pocket all the time.

Juuls were the subject of a class-action lawsuit in Philadelphia last year after many users said the marketing team lied about the amount of nicotine in their products. Juuls have been the subject of a lot of scrutinies recently, largely because much of their marketing has been directed to teens. Like most e-cigarettes, the nicotine solutions come in a variety of flavors that appeal to young people. We've all been walking down the street and walked through a cloud of cotton candy or tropical-scented vapor, only to realize the smell came from someone puffing an e-cig on the sidewalk. But the prevalence of these devices, and the multitude of studies both proving and disproving that they're better for you than cigarettes has put vaping at the forefront of the public eye.

According to his grandmother, Brown suffered from asthma problems and had been encouraged to try vaping by one of his friends. The friend told him it would help him breathe better. This is just one of the many misconceptions being circulated about e-cigarettes, which could explain why they've become so popular among young people in the United States. Last year the FDA declared teen e-cigarette use an epidemic, citing "almost ubiquitous - and dangerous - trend among teenagers". Data from November 2018 showed a 78% increase in the number of high school students who reported vaping in the past month, as compared to the previous year. Those numbers represented more than 3 million American high school students, more than 20% of the population. The study also included nearly 600,000 middle school students who had used the nicotine products.

In an effort to reverse the trend, the administration pulled flavored e-cigarette juice from convenience store shelves across the U.S. The change meant that all flavors other than menthol, mint, and tobacco could only be sold at age-restricted online retailers and smoke shops.

Research is inconclusive about the long term health effects of vaping. Some, including many of the e-cigarette companies themselves, argue their products are a less harmful way to address nicotine cravings in adults. They were first marketed as a weaning device for long-term smokers. However, the ease and prevalence of e-cigarettes have many concerned about making it easier for the next generation to form a nicotine addiction. Before the FDA began to intervene there were very few federal regulations limiting e-cigarettes. There are still very few regulations in place about the physical safety of the devices. But as more people suffer severe and fatal injuries after exploding batteries, there is a growing public concern.

Brown's death was not the first linked to an exploding vaporizer. Last May, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida became the first man to die from an e-cigarette explosion when pieces of his vape shot through his skull. Between 2009 and 2016, there were 195 separate e-cigarette fire and explosion accidents in the United States. In comparison, the lithium-ion batteries in hoverboards had sparked 99 fires as of 2016, resulting in a massive recall of nearly 500,000 products. It's now very clear that there's a problem with e-cigarettes, leaving many to wonder how many people will need to get hurt before changes are made in the industry.

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Why You Actually Don't Want To Be Prescribed Adderall

ADD isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

As I'm writing this, I can feel my concentration slipping. Noises have become enticing, I feel distanced from my phone, and every time someone walks by me in the library, I turn around seeing if it's someone I know. My extended-release Adderall is starting to wear off and my brain is starting to relax back to its natural state. My ADD is climbing out from underneath the blanket of focus I had for 10 hours today.

ADD is not all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, we get prescribed the precious Adderall so many people want, but at what cost? Let me put this in context for you. You know when you're at the library and there's a one really, really loud girl talking on the phone? You know the one. The girl that, for some reason, thinks it's OK to have a full-fledged conversation with her mom about her boyfriend in the middle of the quiet section. The girl that's talking so loud that it's all you can think about, occupying all of your focus. Well, that's what every single person in the room is like when you have ADD.

Distractions that are easy to ignore to someone without ADD are intensified and, instead of focusing on the task at hand, I'm listening to the girl three seats down from me eat her barbecue kettle chips. When you have ADD, it's not just schoolwork you can't focus on. You can't focus on anything. I tried to watch a foreign film one time without my medicine, and I forgot to pay attention to the subtitles. I realized about halfway through the movie that I had no idea what was going on.

What almost everyone that asks me for my Adderall doesn't understand is that I take Adderall to focus how you would normally. When you take my Adderall you feel like you can solve the world's problems. You can bang out an entire project in one night. You can cram for an entire exam fueled by this surge of motivation that seems super-hero-like.

You take my Adderall and ask me, “Is this how you feel all the time?" And, unfortunately, my answer is no. I'll never feel like a limitless mastermind. When I take Adderall, I become a normal human being. I can finish a normal amount of work, in a normal amount of time.

My brain works in two modes: on Adderall, and off Adderall. On Adderall, I'm attentive, motivated and energetic. Off Adderall, I can barely get up the motivation and focus to clean my room or send an email. And it's frustrating. I'm frustrated with my lack of drive. I'm frustrated that this is how my brain operates. Scattered, spastic and very, very unorganized. There's nothing desirable about not being able to finish a sentence because you lost thought mid-way through.

The worst thing that you can say to anyone with ADD is, “I think I should start taking Adderall." Having ADD isn't a free pass to get super-pills, having ADD means you have a disability. I take Adderall because I have a disability, and it wasn't a choice I had a say in. I was tested for ADD my freshman year of college.

My parents were skeptical because they didn't know exactly what ADD was. To them, the kids with ADD were the bad kids in school that caused a scene and were constantly sent out of class. Not an above average student in her first year at a university. I went to a counselor and, after I was diagnosed with ADD, told me with a straight mouth, “Marissa this is something you're going to have to take for the rest of your life."

When the late-night assignments and cramming for the tests are over, and we're all out in the real world, I'm still going to be taking Adderall. When I'm raising a family and have to take the right kid to the right place for soccer practice, I'm still going be taking Adderall. And when I'm trying to remember the numbers they just said for bingo at my nursing home, I'm still going to be taking Adderall.

So you tell me you're jealous that I get prescribed Adderall? Don't be. I'm jealous that you can drink a cup a coffee and motivate yourself once you lose focus. I'm jealous that the success of your day doesn't depend on whether or not you took a pill that morning. The idea of waking up and performing a full day without my medicine is foreign to me.

My brain works in two modes, and I don't know which one is the right one. I don't know which mode is the one the big man upstairs wants me to operate in. So before you say you want to be prescribed to Adderall, ask yourself if you need and want to operate in two different modes.

Ask yourself if you want to rely on medicine to make your entire life work. If I had a choice, I would choose coffee like the rest of the world.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Florida Is Starting To Rethink The Whole Reefer Madness Narrative And I'm Diggin' It

It's a dope change of pace.


Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will allow people with medical marijuana cards to smoke weed legally and, personally, I think it's dope.

I didn't even know people with medical cards in Florida couldn't actually smoke the weed they were prescribed until earlier this year. My friend who suffers from lupus just started smoking hers after the bill was passed. The stinky plant comes in a prescription pill bottle and she's supposed to vaporize it, kind of like a humidifier. I went with her to a dispensary (no laws were broken, I waited in the lobby) and she explained the whole process behind it. Apparently, there's a lot of ways people consume weed. There's cannabis pills, edibles, patches, dab pens, the list goes on. Like, what?

I mean, that's cool and all, but I couldn't wrap my brain around it. What's the problem with the act of smoking? The end goal has the same effects. Granted, it can mess with your lungs, but cigarettes are legal. Vapes are legal. Think about it: the things that are actually legal to smoke don't have any positive effects. Do you see the disconnect?

I still don't fully understand the negative stigma behind weed. Yes, it does for sure mess with your memory and yes, we don't know a lot about it in general so it's hard to say the drug is 100% safe. But then again, JUULs are legal and we don't even know those long term effects. There are so many awful drugs the FDA has approved and yet, they can't get fully on board with weed. Xanax is a highly addictive, dangerous as hell drug if it's abused and it's rarely monitored. Some doctors hand it out like candy. Even Tylenol is awful.

No one has died from weed. How many people have died from alcohol poisoning? I'm just saying you never hear about a stoner overdosing on weed—it's just not a thing.

What we do know about weed is that it does have some positive effects on people's health and it can actually help those in real pain. Even people with cancer are suggested to smoke weed to help with their symptoms, so what's the issue? I'm glad Florida is starting to recognize that this stigma is old-fashioned and is starting to move away from the devil's lettuce narrative.

I'm not saying everyone should dress head to toe in weed paraphernalia and spark a blunt in the middle of Downtown, Orlando (although, that would be interesting to watch) and I am not condoning any illegal use of marijuana, but I think the Reefer Madness mindset is extremely outdated. People who actually need weed for medical issues are not using it recreationally, so any prior beef with Mary Jane should not affect their health.

Florida is finally making changes for those who medically need it and it's lit.


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