The Food and Drug Administration is investigating dozens of reports of people who experienced seizures after using e-cigarettes.

The agency announced Wednesday that it has received 35 reports of people suffering seizures after vaping between 2010 and 2019. Most of those cases were in adolescents and young adults. And while it isn’t clear whether there is a direct link between e-cigarettes and the seizures, health officials said they found the reports troubling.

“While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy said in a statement.

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Convulsions and seizures are known to be a potential side effect of nicotine poisoning, according to the FDA. The agency said it’s possible that some e-cigarette products make it possible for people to inhale a significant amount of nicotine quickly. E-cigarette users also might be inadvertently or deliberately inhaling more nicotine than normal. But the FDA said it’s also possible that other factors were behind the seizures.

“We want to be clear that we don’t yet know if there’s a direct relationship between the use of e-cigarettes and a risk of seizure. We can’t yet say for certain that e-cigarettes are causing these seizures,” Gottlieb and Abernethy said.

So far, the agency has not been able to establish a clear pattern among the reported cases. Some of the seizures were among first-time vapers, and others were among people who frequently used e-cigarettes. The seizures didn’t occur at the same point in time after vaping — some happened after a few puffs, and others up to a day after using an e-cigarette. The FDA said there also wasn’t enough data in many of the reports to identify the brand or sub-brand of e-cigarette that a person had used.

A few of the cases also occurred in people who had a history of seizures or who were also using marijuana or amphetamines.

Health officials are urging people who experience any health issues after using an e-cigarette to report the problem to a federal safety reporting portal. The FDA said more data might help the agency determine whether there is a link between seizures and vaping and if so, whether there are any common risk factors or e-cigarette designs that might be involved.

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  • This issue is HUGE! The liquid in e-cigarettes is composed of more than 95% propylene glycol and/or glycerol. Both of those were classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA itself many years ago. Today those things can be found in our foods, cosmetics and other common products. The remaining 5% or less of e-liquid is common food flavouring and/or nicotine. No component in e-cigarette liquids should be causing seizures but if one or more of them are then the FDA should ban all use of propylene glycol, glycerine, food flavourings and nicotine immediately. If not sooner.

    • Propylene Glycol and/or vegetable glycerine.. with flavoring, and nicotine if desired, some do not add nicotine* If you read the article Murray, it specifically says “The agency said it’s possible that some e-cigarette products make it possible for people to inhale a significant amount of nicotine quickly. E-cigarette users also might be inadvertently or deliberately inhaling more nicotine than normal. But the FDA said it’s also possible that other factors were behind the seizures.” it also says some of the people had a history of seizures, and/or were on marijuana or methamphetamine as well. Vaping is more of a grassroots occurrence than anything else, and if there was a consistent occurrence of seizures with vaping you can bet it would be all over the forums. You’re looking at 35 reported cases amongst … 10.8 million people who vape in the USA…(0.000324074074074%) 1.1 billion worldwide. If anything, it seems more likely that it’s user error, whether by getting the liquid all over themselves (nicotine can absorb through the skin), overfilling their tank so it sputters into the mouth, etc..
      I find it highly laughable that this gets so much traction when you have things like alcohol poisoning (directly relatable, since seizures are caused by nicotine poisoning).. Nationally, there are more than 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths each year, which is an average of six every day…. Where’s the outrage and the rush for legislation for that? I find it sad that in a country where we have lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies (who lose sales due to vaping) and tobacco companies, vaping is stigmatized as worse than cigarettes… yet in the UK, they’re recognized as 95% safer than cigarettes, and are given out in smoking cessation programs.

    • Sorry, Hosea, but vaping is just a tiny fraction of the total amount of propylene glycol, glycerine, food flavouring and nicotine consumed every day. All vaping liquids are composed of those four chemicals only and if there is a problem with any of them we all need to know about it. What is most disturbing is that the FDA itself classified those things as safe and now they are stating they are not sure if they are safe. If those common substances are no longer considered safe that is a HUGE issue and one way or another a lot of FDA employees need to be fired for incompetence. Those chemicals cannot be GRAS and unsafe at the same time.

    • I would disagree with that. Things can definitely be GRAS and unsafe.. it’s all about method of delivery. The definition of GRAS by itself says ” general recognition of safety through experience based on common use in foods”, key words being Common Use, and Foods. For instance, PG and VG are both GRAS even for vaping, as long as the liquid doesn’t get hot enough to burn. Once the liquid starts the chemical process of burning is when formaldehyde for instance gets released. That’s the main reason that cigarettes are so bad, hundreds of chemicals, most unsafe, are released when the tobacco starts burning. As for other issues, like Diacetyl flavoring in buttery-type flavors, absolutely safe to ingest, possible issues involving popcorn lung when inhaled. To add some perspective here, studies have shown that when diacetyl has been detected in vapor, it was measured at a high 9.0 micrograms. The diacetyl level found in tobacco smoke has been measured at 335.9 micrograms. Cue media frenzy on popcorn smoke from vaping, but keep in mind there are no known occurrences of people developing popcorn lung from smoking cigarettes.

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