Kenna Gottschalk, Staff Writer

A CNN article recently reported, “Missouri health officials announced on Thursday the vaping-related death of a man in his mid-40s. This is the United States’ eighth death linked to severe lung injury and illness tied to e-cigarettes.”

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said the man had normal lung function before he started to vape in May. He developed mild respiratory symptoms that worsened and was hospitalized on Aug. 22.

Missouri’s Department of Health has also confirmed two cases of illnesses that were related to vaping. Seven other possible cases are being investigated.

Both New York and Michigan have already put bans on flavored e-cigarettes. This poses the question, “Which is more important to Missouri; the profits from e-cigarettes, or the health of its citizens?”

The original intention of e-cigarettes was to help people stop using tobacco cigarettes, by slowly weaning them off of them and onto e-cigarettes to quit smoking altogether. This didn’t last long though. People who had never suffered from a nicotine addiction quickly became hooked on vaping because they claimed it was harmless and safer than a cigarette. Yet, this is clearly not the case. College students, high schoolers, and even middle school students were using vapes and juuls at every chance they could, which unfortunately gave many young people a nicotine addiction.

 Many users believe that if they stick to products such as e-cigarettes and juuls and vapes and choose a zero-nicotine option, they would only be inhaling water vapor, which they claim is safe. The truth is, the other chemicals found in e-cigarette liquid, flavorings, and aerosols are incredibly harmful. Recently, they are to blame for the cause of severe health problems and even death.

“A large number of these chemicals have serious health consequences, including cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. A recent study found five cancer-causing toxins in the urine of 16-year-olds who inhaled e-cigarette vapor. If they also smoked cigarettes, the levels were even higher,” says Dr. Azure Thompson, the associate director of policy research and analysis at the Center on Addiction, according to the Center on Addiction’s The Buzz.

“For too long, companies have gotten our kids hooked on nicotine by marketing candy-flavored vaping products as safe,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said in a statement on Sept. 4. “That ends today.”

Michigan’s new regulations also ban any description of vapor products as “clean, safe, harmless or healthy” and limit advertising of vapor products near candy, food and soft drinks in stores.

“But New York officially became the first state to institute a ban when regulators approved a set of emergency rules on September 3,” says TIME magazine.

CNN states that vaping-related illnesses have been linked to seven previous deaths: two in California and one each in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon. CDC health officials said on Thursday they expect more deaths to be reported.

There have been 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes as of Sept. 17, according to the CDC. That’s 150 more than was reported on Sept. 11.

These numbers are alarmingly high and will only continue to rise if no attempts to change are made. The state of Missouri should strongly consider banning flavored e-cigarettes, not only for the sake of preventing future illnesses but because people are suffering and losing their lives in this very moment. Action needs to be taken.