“It seems like the people who wrote these rules don’t actually know anything about Juul and how they’re sold,” Wade told me in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Or they do, and picking that number was deliberate.”
This is dangerous because e-cigarettes (although not probably not completely harmless) are widely accepted to be safer than combustible ones, with a Harvard study declaring that they are “almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes.” In fact, Wade told me that, according to her research, they are approximately 95 percent less harmful — citing, specifically, a Public Health England study.
The truth is, however, the war against flavored nicotine pods in response to these illnesses is rooted more in media hysteria than in actual reality. See, when media report on these illnesses or deaths, they often state in the headlines that they were due to, simply, “vaping” — without making any mention of what drug the person had been vaping, or how he had obtained the pod or juice. This has resulted in many people being misled to believe that the problems are coming from vaping legal nicotine products, despite the fact that the vast majority of them have come from people vaping black-market THC products containing Vitamin E. Wade took it a step further, telling me that, in her professional opinion, all of the illnesses are almost certainly due to THC.
“It would surprise me if any of this was nicotine,” she said.
Wade explained her reasoning to me, saying that people may be simply “hesitant to admit” to the CDC that they had been using a marijuana product, especially if they are minors. She added that, due to the differences in chemical properties between nicotine and THC, she doesn’t “see a need for [the problematic] type of chemical to be in a nicotine product” period.
In any case, when it comes to Michigan specifically, there may still be some hope. As Kelley and Wade note, the new, draconian rules have yet to be finalized — and hopefully, they never will be. Hopefully, government officials in the state will remember the importance of things like “personal freedom” and “harm reduction,” and reject things like “regulation in response to media hysteria.” Hopefully, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (who claims to be doing this for the sake of keeping “kids safe”) will remember that in her state, 17-year-olds are tried as adults, and realize that, in most cases, a kid is going to be less safe in prison than he’d be at home with a Juul pod.