The long wait for answers is finally over. While the nation has spent months searching for the cause of the sudden rash of nationwide lung injuries, the CDC has confirmed that, as we've long suspected, the cause of E-cigarette or Vaping product use–Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) is very likely vitamin E acetate. This hopefully will bring to an end efforts to demonize nicotine vaping, as vitamin E acetate is, as we've previously discussed, used in THC vapes to dilute the product (since it matches the viscosity of THC oil), but not used in nicotine vapes as it would be extraneous and unnecessary.
The latest information from the CDC confirms that vitamin E acetate, also known as tocopheryl-acetate, is "closely associated" with EVALI. This is based on a new clinical study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which identified vitamin E acetate in 95% of EVALI patients, but in zero percent of patients from the control group.
Obviously, this isn't news to any of you: we reported a month and a half ago that vitamin E acetate (tocopheryl-acetate) was strongly suspected as the causative agent of EVALI. The timeline of the outbreak simply wouldn't make sense if this was anything caused by nicotine vaping, as we'd obviously have seen illnesses years ago, and they would be continuing - which they're not. Lining up as the outbreak data did with the release of vitamin E acetate thickeners - in particular Honey Cut - the evidence was there, but needed to be confirmed with clinical trials.
We would expect, then, as nicotine vapers, to see this new data bring an end to speculation about nicotine vaping as the cause of EVALI, and public health efforts to ban nicotine vaping based on EVALI injuries. This incident highlights the need for evidence-based medical research, and brings into stark relief how important it is to not judge situations in the absence of evidence. While caution is clearly warranted in incidents such as these, speculation and assumption and prejudice caused many unintentional harms while we waited for science to bring us answers. In the future, we should wait to make judgments until we have clear evidence, in this as in all things!