State Health Department expresses vaping concerns
From the State Department of Health
As of September 19, 2019, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has confirmed 16 cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use or “vaping.” Currently, there are also seven probable cases in Virginia. Of these 23 cases, the patients have ranged in age from 18 to 38. Seventy-four percent of the patients have been male. The case number is expected to rise as investigations continue. Nationally, the CDC is reporting 530 confirmed or probable cases of lung illness from 38 states and 1 U.S. territory. While there have been none in Virginia, seven deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon.
What the public can do
While these investigations are ongoing, VDH recommends that people consider not using any e-cigarette products. People who use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention or call a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 if symptoms develop. Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products. In addition to other potentially harmful chemicals, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
Smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications, rather than e-cigarettes. If assistance is needed to quit tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact a healthcare provider. Free cessation counseling may be obtained by contacting the VDH quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or QuitNow.net/Virginia.
How e-cigarettes and lung illness may be related
E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol to the user by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver marijuana or other substances. CDC, FDA, and state partners, including Virginia, are combining information about e-cigarette exposures, results from FDA testing of product samples, and clinical testing results to identify a cause or causes of these illnesses. Many patients, but not all, reported recent use of THC-containing products and some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products. Some patients reported using nicotine products only. It is therefore too early to pinpoint if a single product or substance is common among all cases. VDH, CDC, and FDA encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected health or product issues related to e-cigarettes or other tobacco products to the FDA via the online portal at SafetyReporting.hhs.gov.
VDH has a Virginia specific webpage regarding “vaping” and lung illness that will be updated regularly. It may be found at VDHLiveWell/vaping.