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Analysis Reveals that 44% of State Health Departments are Not Explicitly Warning Youth Not to Vape THC and Three States are Committing Public Health Malpractice

This is part 1 of an analysis of the health warnings that state health departments are issuing to the public regarding the outbreak of vaping-associated respiratory illness. Here, I analyze the warnings issued by the first 25 states (Alabama through Montana).

For each state, after briefly summarizing the warning, I categorize the warning based on three criteria:
Is there an explicit warning not to vape THC?Does the warning inform the public that THC vape cartridges are playing a major role in the outbreak?Does the warning mention THC at all?Based on the warning and these three criteria, I then classify the state health department warnings into six rating levels:
Excellent: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC, the state informs the public that THC is playing a major role in the outbreak, and the state goes beyond CDC by not undermining its warning about vaping THC Good: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC and the state goes beyond CDC by not undermining this warning, but the state either fails to inform the public that THC is playing a major role in the outbreak or issues too vague a warning.Fair: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC but the state undermines that warning by emphasizing that no single product has been associated with all cases.Poor: There is an explicit warning not to vape THC but it is undermined by a vague warning or the failure to acknowledge that THC plays a major role in the outbreak.Very poor: There is no explicit warning not to vape THC.Public health malpractice: There is no mention of THC in the warning. My rationale for this classification is that at this point, it is very clear that THC vape cartridges are playing a major role in the outbreak and both CDC and the FDA have now acknowledged that. Given that fact, it is imperative that state health departments issue an explicit warning to the public, and especially to youth, not to vape THC (at least black market THC products). Finally, this message should not be undermined by other statements in the warning.

Here are the results of my analysis:

The Rest of the Story

The most striking finding of this analysis is that 3 states - Alabama, Illinois, and Kentucky - are committing public health malpractice by not even mentioning THC at all in their warnings. This is inexcusable and puts the lives and health of residents, especially youth, at risk.

The second most striking finding is that 11 of the 25 states (44%) are not explicitly warning the public not to vape black market THC cartridges. These states are (in addition to the 3 states above): California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Montana.

In only 3 states are the warnings rated as excellent: Connecticut, Maine, and Minnesota.

Links to the warnings for each state that I used in the analysis are provided below:


Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Connecticut
Colorado
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Original author: Michael Siegel
Heads Up – News – Updates 10.24.2019
Heads Up – News – Updates 10.23.2019
 

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