What’s the difference between vaping addictive nicotine and inhaling the poisonous insecticide through cigarettes, cigars and pipes? 

Both forms of “smoking” cause upper respiratory problems, both seem irresistible to far too many youngsters, and both have landed lots of people in the hospital this year, with many of those anachronistic smokers and trend-setting vapers ending up in the morgue.

Indeed, e-cigs certainly appear to be quite a bit faster than tobacco in creating serious lung, heart and other physical problems for their users, with hundreds of vaping-related illnesses reported this year alone by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Currently, the CDC reports on its website that “the CDC, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.”

It looks like vaping — of both nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — has created a full-blown public health crisis within this once wholly unregulated industry which could not have been unexpected.

All of which brings us back to the really big difference between e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes, and that is makers of traditional tobacco stogies and butts cannot advertise their products on television or the radio, and have not been allowed to do so since 1971. Somewhat surprisingly, apparently no such prohibitions have ever existed for this relatively new phenomenon of inhaling nicotine vapers emanating from electronically heated cartridges, or pods, of nicotine, both flavored and not.

In fact, producers of some of these commercials state right up front that these products contain nicotine, and that nicotine is an addictive drug. And with that disclosure the nation’s television airwaves are being saturated by television ads extolling the joys and benefits of vaping. According to these depictions, vaping is something that is cool, relatively harmless and actually helpful in getting smokers off of tobacco products. It is with hype like this that e-cig makers Juul, Vuse Alta, and Blu are bombarding cable TV viewers — adults and children — with their potentially life-threatening enticements.

On April Fool’s Day 1970, then-President Richard Nixon signed legislation banning cigarette ads on TV and radio following a three-year effort to clear the airwaves of images of people joyfully inhaling and exhaling toxic cigarette smoke. The ban took effect at midnight on Jan. 2, 1971. The last televised cigarette ad, according to Andrew Glass of Politico,  ran at 11:50 p.m. during “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” the host himself a once inveterate smoker, even while on the air through the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Ads for nicotine-infused products like cigarettes and cigars have not been seen on TV or heard on the radio until now, with e-cigarettes.

According to the CDC, here’s what is known about the vaping crisis as of Oct. 8:

• 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 US territory.

• Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.

• All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarettes, or vaping, products.

• Most patients report a history of using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products. The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.

• Therefore, CDC recommends that you should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC.

• Exclusive use of nicotine containing products has been reported by some patients with lung injury cases, and many patients with lung injury report combined use of THC- and nicotine-containing products. Therefore, the possibility that nicotine-containing products play a role in this outbreak cannot be excluded.

• At present, CDC continues to recommend that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain nicotine.

The above information was lifted directly from the CDC website.

According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman, the answer to this crisis is simple: “It’s time to stop vaping,” Norman told CNN. “If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop. The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify.”One good way to help the process of quitting is to take those grossly misleading vaping ads off TV, radio and social media. n