CHICAGO — As the outbreak of serious lung injuries linked to vaping continues to grow, the American Medical Association (AMA) today released a letter sent to the CEOs of five of the nation’s leading e-commerce sites urging them to help keep illicit vaping products off their platforms. The AMA also calls on these companies to remain vigilant against the sale of items used to create counterfeit vaping products, such as empty vaping cartridges. The following letter was sent to the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Microsoft.

“It is time for e-commerce companies to take action to ban the sale of materials fueling the counterfeit vaping crisis. We urge you to actively enforce your existing policies to keep illicit products off the market and out of the hands of people who are, often unwittingly, putting their lives at risk. Given the pace at which vaping-related lung illness is expanding, there is no time to waste,” said AMA CEO and EVP James L. Madara, M.D.

The full text of the letter is below:           

Dear CEOs of Leading E-Commerce Platforms,

Amid growing concern over serious lung injuries linked to vaping, the American Medical Association (AMA) believes those who maintain the nation’s leading e-commerce sites must vigorously enforce your existing policies to keep illicit vaping products off your platforms. At the same time, we urge you to remain vigilant against the sale of items used to create counterfeit vaping products, such as empty vaping cartridges.

The rapid growth of vaping-related lung illness is frightening in scope and unexplained in nature. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, as of Oct. 1, 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 48 states, along with 18 deaths. Clearly, the problem is escalating. 

While the search for a definitive cause continues, the AMA believes steps must be taken now to rein in this problem. As documented recently in the Wall Street Journal, the internet is an abundant source for illicit, and in some cases illegal, vaping materials and devices. Multiple e-commerce sites also offer packaging for fill-your-own vaping cartridges that are nearly indistinguishable from legitimate products manufactured by established companies.

 We urge you, as leaders of large technology platforms, to ensure that existing policies that ban the sale or transfer of illicit items (such as vaping products that contain THC) are enforced.

 According to the CDC, the use of illicit prefilled vaping cartridges containing THC, and sold on the street or through other unregulated channels, are implicated in a significant number of reported lung injury cases. As a result, the AMA also urges tech platform operators to reconsider the sale of empty vaping cartridges and packaging, which can then be filled with ingredients unknown to the end user.

 It is time for e-commerce companies to take action to ban the sale of materials fueling the counterfeit vaping crisis. We urge you to actively enforce your existing policies to keep illicit products off the market and out of the hands of people who are, often unwittingly, putting their lives at risk. Given the pace at which vaping-related lung illness is expanding, there is no time to waste.

Sincerely,

James L. Madara, M.D.

AMA CEO and EVP

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Editor’s Note:  For decades, the AMA has been a leader in the fight against tobacco and cigarettes. Click here to learn more about the AMA’s work on these issues and e-cigarettes.

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.