Caught in the Smoke

The Current National Crisis of Vaping, and how it Affects Los Angeles


Photo courtesy of Toshiro Shimada/Getty Images

There has now been six reported deaths due to the use of e-cigarettes.

Kayla Misa, Contributing Writer

This week, a sixth person, a woman older than 50 who had a multitude of health defects, has died from lung disease after using e-cigarettes that worsened her symptoms. As of this month, there have been more than 450 possible cases of lung illness reported because of e-cigarette use, and after the hospitalizations and deaths spreading through the media, Trump has called for a ban on non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from the market, according to a recent CNN health article. 

Elia Baida, the owner of vaping shop “Tobacco Vape Spot” in the San Fernando Valley, has expressed his concerns for citizens in Los Angeles County, but also wanted to clear up the misconceptions that media sources are producing. 

“There is an important distinction to make between e-cigarettes and vaping tools. E-cigs and vaping use different cartridges; e-cigs have been out on the market for almost 8 years and are mainly used for THC consumption. Vaping devices usually only contain the flavor concentrate, or nicotine, if [the user] chooses to, meaning that one does not need to even add in the nicotine to their vaping device,” Baida remarks. 

Nearly all death cases have shown that these patients were using vaping products that contained cannabinoid chemicals, such as THC, a chemical found in cannabis that gives users “the high” they want to achieve, according to Baida. 

“The products contained very high levels of vitamin E acetate oil, which is a synthetic-type of THC, and was bought from the black market from a non-reputable source,” added Baida. 

Baida’s flavors fuel around 80% of his sales, and the proposed Trump ban could take away his livelihood, even when the ban could perpetuate the sales of black-market and online vaping, products that are much more dangerous than the products carried in-store. 

Connor Johnson, a current Cal State LA student, and regular vaper, has also expressed his opinion on vaping and the “epidemic.”

“Vaping is a lot less conspicuous, and I can vape without having people recognize a cigarette smell. It’s a lot cheaper, and doesn’t smell as bad,” Johnson said. 

“Take pride in the fact that you have the willpower to say no. Freedom doesn’t only allow us to do what we want to do, but freedom also allows us to say no, and show that we’re free from the pressures or burdens that are put upon us,” Johnson said to those who are thinking of vaping.

Arnold Platzker, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, has stated that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping could take a very serious toll in Los Angeles, and is a rising issue with both adults and young adults. 

“Vaping is extremely harmful to those who don’t have any lung-related diseases, but even more harmful to those who already have lung illnesses because of their inflamed passageways. Every puff containing nicotine, can enter the tunnel airways of a person, and can really leave damaging effects. If one was born with asthma, or was born prematurely, has cystic fibrosis, or has any lung-disease, stray away from the use of e-cigs,” Platzker stated.  

Hesaid that people can develop lipoid pneumonia, because of the puffs in e-cig use. E-cig use deposits lipids in the lungs, which can cause extreme inflammation.

According to Platzker, “…we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg, and we have no idea about how many uses it takes to really develop an illness or disease… and we need to research and collect more data in order to prevent more illnesses and deaths from occurring.” 

Baida headed a warning for those who are considering picking up a vape pen: “Vaping is not completely harmless, and it does have addictive chemicals. If you don’t have to vape, then don’t do it. If you do want to do it, just to look cool, then focus your energies on studying, getting good grades, graduating, and finding a great job.”