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Vapers Gonna Vape: Premiere of EVALI

“He’s dying. I was crying”, recalls Daniel Mitchell, father of a victim of EVALI, or the so-called “vaper syndrome”. On Monday, RT Documentary premieres EVALI: Vape of the Death about a new mysterious disease that affects more and more teenagers and often leads to death. While waiting for the premiere, watch the trailer and read the story of Alex Mitchell – an EVALI survivor.

In 2019, doctors started talking about a new, widespread disease that caused severe lung damage. An outbreak of more than 3,000 cases in the US followed 64 of which were fatal. All the patients were diagnosed with a lung injury associated with using electronic cigarettes or vaping products. The name of the disease was later abbreviated to EVALI.

Today, about 50 million people worldwide use electronic nicotine delivery systems and vaping devices. It’s a considerable market conservatively estimated to be worth around $7 billion. In Great Britain, where vaping has been stealing a lead over conventional tobacco smoking, even the National Health Service tacitly supported consumers of the new nicotine delivery systems.

Today, about 50 million people worldwide use electronic nicotine delivery systems and vaping devices / Chiara Summer via Unsplash

Press releases by electronic cigarette companies called people to switch from smoking to vaping, saying that vapes are 95% safer than cigarettes.

The first vaping related deaths in Russia occurred even earlier than in the US: in the Republic of Tatarstan and Leningrad Region in 2016 and Stary Oskol in 2020. In every case, the victims were teenagers. Judging by the statistics, more and more teenagers show some signs of the EVALI syndrome every year.

Scientists are now busy trying to study the long-term effects of vaping. Rats are being exposed to e-cigarette vapours. The results of the experiments are grim. After exposure to electronic cigarettes, the lungs of mice suffer pathological changes, as a result of which there remains practically no space for breathing.

Statistical data shows an increasing number of teenagers annually have some sign of the EVALI syndrome / Toan Nguyen via Unsplash

The vape of death

Alex from Utah is 20 years old. He comes from an average middle-class American family. His father is a mechanic, and his mother a housewife. His story didn’t just shake America, but the whole world. Alex was among the first victims of EVALI.

“I bought a vape liquid,” says Alex. “The reason I chose it is because I love peach. I also wanted a menthol or a mint flavour, but the peach was probably the best smelling of all the options I was given. So, I chose it, and on the same day, I smoked it. The next day we went to visit my grandmother and...”

The boy fell ill. His stomach ached, he vomited. His mother took him to the doctor, who said it was probably flu or some virus. But Alex didn’t get better. On the contrary, he was getting worse and worse. Finally, when taken to the doctor for a second time, Alex was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“Everyone thought it was just some kind of malaise. The next day, I complained to my mother that I could only take half a breath, and it hurt, it just hurt if I tried to inhale deeper,” Alex recalls his misadventures.

“It was like someone was squeezing the bottom of my lungs as I tried to inhale. And at that moment, everyone thought: something is wrong.”

It was enough for a doctor from California to look at Alex to realise he was dying. Pulmonologists and cardiologists started the fight for the boy’s life.

Intensive care
Pulmonologists and cardiologists fought for Alex’s life / Maxim Tolchinskiy

“It all happened so quickly. I had no words. After all, it happened to my older brother, who was much cooler than me. And, of course, I sat all the time by his bed in the hospital. It was terrible. And just like my father, I thought I was losing my brother. I was wildly nervous,” recalls Eliot Mitchell, Alex’s brother.

“There was nothing I could do to help. I could only be by his side and watch him die. It was very difficult.”

Luckily, Alex managed to pull through it. Now he is on the way to recovery and even planning hiking trips with his brother. However, lucky ones like Alex are in the minority when it comes to EVALI…

Do you want to know more about vaping lung disease? Then, tune in to the premiere of RT Documentary’s EVALI on Monday!