Multiple states across the country have reported clusters of patients experiencing severe respiratory disease after using e-cigarettes or “vaping.” As of Sept. 4, the Ohio Department of Health confirmed three reports of pulmonary illness and are investigating an additional 11 cases in Ohio.
Local officials said vaping happens here, too. A survey conducted by public health at the 2018 Huron County Fair, taken by 262 participants, showed 20 percent of respondents ages 11 to 17 years old use e-cigs, or their friends do.
New state law requires individuals to be 21 in order to buy cigarettes, e-cigs, cigars, or any other product or device that consists of or contains tobacco. Previously, the minimum age to purchase the products was 18 years old.
What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes may be referred to as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems.
According to the Center for Disease Control, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.
In a 2018 survey, more than 3.6 million U.S. middle and high school students said they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 5-percent of middle school students and 21-percent of high school students. Due to the unknown health effects of e-cigarettes/vape products, the Board of Health of Huron County Public Health issued a cautionary message to residents about the dangers of e-cigarettes/vaping products.
Why are more people using?
One reason for vaping’s increased popularity among users is the belief it’s a healthier alternative to regular cigarette smoking, and for some, a way to ease into quitting altogether.
“We are aware there is a perception that vaping is safe, or safer than smoking cigarettes, but these recent reports of serious lung illness associated with e-cigarette and vaping products show this is not true,” Huron County health spokesperson Melanie Myers.
A report issued by public health states e-cigs of any kind contain potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, Vitamin E acetate, and cancer-causing chemicals. Some inhalants can also contain flavorings, essential oils, and/or marijuana.
“(And) e-cigarettes are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a smoking aid,” Myers said.
Be on the lookout
While the CDC continues to study and investigate the negative effects, Huron County Public Health recommends the following:
• Refrain from using e-cigarette/vape products
• E-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products
• Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC, other cannabinoids)
• Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer
• If you use e-cigarette products, monitor yourself for symptoms and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health
• Evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications for smokers who are attempting to quit
The Ohio Quit Line is also available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
The Ohio Department of Health has recommended clinicians report cases of severe pulmonary disease of unclear etiology and history of e-cigarette product use to local health departments. The reporting of cases may help CDC and the Ohio Department of Health determine the cause or causes of these pulmonary illnesses. Although there have been no reported cases in Huron County to date, Huron County Public Health is encouraging health care providers in Huron County to notify Huron County Public Health of any potential cases by contacting Huron County Public Health’s epidemiologist at 419-668-1652 ext. 258.
Huron County Public Health will be working closely with CDC, the Ohio Department of Health, and FDA to continue to advise and alert the public as more information becomes available. For the latest outbreak information and updates visit: cdc.gov/tobacco, and HuronCoHealth.com for residents in/nearby Bellevue, Norwalk, Willard and all of Huron County.