CDC Report Underscores Need to Include THC Products when Considering a Flavored Nicotine Ban

A September 27 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention validated the importance of legislation recently filed by State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) that seeks to ban flavored nicotine products, including those containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis.

Wehrli’s HB 3887 would create the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act, and sets penalties for individuals and manufacturers who would sell the products illegally. The ban would include flavored nicotine or nicotine/THC products commonly used in vaping pens.

The CDC’s report issued today should alarm every Illinoisan, especially parents. Whereas e-cigarettes and vaping were sold to the public as a safe alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, we are learning that these materials are causing a significant threat to public health,” said Wehrli. “Because these new materials are flavored to taste like bubble gum, cotton candy, chocolate and other enticing flavors, kids are being targeted, and in some cases the results have been deadly.”

According to Wehrli, the CDC report was based on interviews with 86 individuals from Illinois and Wisconsin who contracted lung illnesses after using e-cigarette or vaping products. The cases of lung injury came from individuals who were previously healthy prior to the use of e-cigarettes or vaping materials. The report states, “Use of THC-containing e-cigarette products, the majority of which were prefilled cartridges obtained from informal sources, was reported by 87% of patients during the three months preceding illness.”  The report went on to say the cause of the outbreak is unknown but might be related to prefilled THC cartridges. The CDC recommended that persons consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC.

“Other flavored tobacco ban bills have been filed this year, but my HB 3887 is the only bill that includes flavored nicotine products that also include THC,” said Wehrli. “As a General Assembly, when we address this growing health crisis, we need to make sure we are taking steps that address the real problem. When I hear that 87% of the patients who fell ill used products containing THC, that suggests a correlation between THC-infused e-cigarettes or vape pens and significant lung disease.”

Wehrli attended a recent public hearing on the vaping crisis, and questioned the Illinois Attorney General and Director of Public Health about Illinois statistics involving lung illnesses by those who have used vaping materials. You can listen to his line of questioning here.