The FDA recently added “seizures” as a possible danger associated with vaping after reviewing 127 cases that reference e-cigarettes as a possible causal factor. Reports indicate that seizures have occurred “after a few puffs or even up to one day after use” of e-cigarettes. The seizure investigation is part of an ongoing scientific evaluation of e-cigarette safety.

The FDA is currently working to “identify common risk factors” and determine whether any specific e-cigarette product attributes, such as nicotine content or formulation, may be more likely to contribute to seizures.

After gaining oversight of e-cigarettes in 2016, the FDA delayed regulatory action, pushing off product review to 2021-2022. This resulted in a cataclysmic growth of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults—much of it generated from sales of the high-nicotine-content Juul product. Over nine states implemented their own laws in attempt to control the e-cigarette epidemic, which some attribute to the lack of FDA response.

The FDA reported a rise in seizure incidents beginning in June of 2018. By April 2019, the FDA identified 35 incidents which appeared to link to e-cigarette use. The possible correlation prompted the FDA to dig deeper and review poison control reports for the past nine years. They discovered a total of 127 reports linking seizures to vaping.

In April 2019, the FDA issued a public safety warning about e-cigarette seizure risks. The warning included a description of the Juul product — an e-cigarette popular among youth and young adult users:

The FDA is alerting the public to this important and potentially serious health issue. The below bullets are directly from the FDA CTP Newsroom.

  • Healthcare providers should be aware that seizures may be associated with e-cigarette use—redacted reports of past incidents are available on the FDA website and may assist medical evaluations of seizures.
  • Consumers should recognize the wide range of symptoms that may be associated with e-cigarette use and the importance of reporting new or unexpected seizures to their doctor or clinic.
  • Parents, teachers, and other concerned adults should be aware that many youth are using e-cigarettes that closely resemble a USB flash drive, have high levels of nicotine and emissions that are hard to see.
  • Youth and young adult users should also be aware that some e-cigarettes (also called vapes) can contain high levels of nicotine, even as much nicotine as a pack of regular cigarettes. Teens who vape may end up addicted to nicotine faster than teens who smoke. Vapes may be used more frequently because they are easier to hide and may expose users to more nicotine. There are no safe tobacco products.

Although no specific device has been linked to the seizures, the FDA is now requesting specific e-cigarette manufacturer information be included in seizure reports. The FDA is asking that any unexpected health or product issues experienced with e-cigarettes or any tobacco product be reported to the FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal.

The FDA seems particularly interested in the types of liquids that are used in e-cigarettes and the levels of nicotine in those liquids. If nicotine is definitively linked to the seizures, it is possible the FDA will look even more seriously at Juul, which is specifically known for its high nicotine content.

Juul currently faces a class-action lawsuit claiming they developed an addictive product with high levels of nicotine. One Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. Juul use skyrocketed due to its design and marketing, growing more than any other e-cigarette manufacturer in the last four years. As of 2018, when the FDA started noticing an increase in seizure reports, Juul had captured over 75% of the e-cigarette market.

If you or someone you know has become seriously addicted to nicotine in e-cigarettes, has health problems associated with e-cigarettes, or has been injured by a malfunctioning e-cigarette, you should contact an experienced e-cigarette injury attorney to advise you on the ability to seek compensation for your injuries.