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  • Writer's pictureDan English

Evaluating EVALI

You might call it vaping, or hitting the Juul; now the CDC calls it dangerous. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a name for the E-cigarette and vaping related lung injuries that are popping up everywhere. Epidemiologists identified 28 vaping related deaths across the country. The complicated acronym used for these injuries is EVALI, or E-cigarette, or VAping, product use Associated Lung Injury.

If you haven’t logged onto YouTube in the past few years, or if you don’t have any vape users in your life, e-cigarettes and vapes are a new, electronic way to get nicotine or THC into your lungs. Vape “pens” use a small battery to heat and atomize an oil containing nicotine or THC. Users can get their fix without lighting up a cigarette or joint.

Combing through the data, it’s clear without any statistical analysis (more on that later) that e-cig/vaping is a big business and the number-one customers in the US are teens. Consider in Wyoming, where teens are Juuling at twice the rate they’re smoking. Nearly 30% teen e-cig/vaping rate in Wyoming compared to less than 16% who smoke. Adults in the “Equality State vape at a rate of less than six percent while 18.7% say they smoke cigarettes. This trend is repeated all over the country. Teens are shunning cigarettes and embracing the Juul.

The CDC says many of the recent lung injuries are associated with THC oil. It’s important to note that THC is a controlled, illegal substance in many states so THC oil may come from the black market. It’s difficult to tell if the drug dealers mixing the THC oil are reputable. It’s also, in many cases, difficult to know where legal nicotine vape oils come from and what they’re made out of.

Now for a little GIS analysis. There’s not a clear geographical trend for the rate of teens using e-cigs or vapes around the country. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the states where smoking is more prevalent in the states where vaping is most prevalent. That trend continues considering adult rates of smoking and vaping. Thanks to the good folks behind QGIS for keeping the app updated.

Let’s look at statistical analysis. Oh, sorry... Apple’s #CatalinaUpdate crippled all of my statistical analysis software. I’m looking at you GNU community for a timely PSPP update. Stay tuned for statistical analysis by R if time permits tonight.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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