Piggybacking on what federal and state health officials are saying, Orange County Commissioner of Health Dr. Irina Gelman is urging residents to stop using all vape products while the investigation into the definitive cause of vaping-associated illnesses nationwide continues.
“The bottom line is smoking and vaping is unsafe,” Gelman said. “E-cigarettes pose a health risk for youth, young adults, pregnant women, and adults who do not currently use tobacco products. While evidence exists that adult smokers who completely substitute vaping for traditional smoking reduce their exposure to many of the toxic chemicals and carcinogens present in combustible tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not risk-free and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit-smoking aid.”
According to the New York State Department of Health, as of this month, 81 cases of severe pulmonary illness have been reported by physicians in the state, among patients who noted recent use of vape products.
The majority of patients have reported use of both nicotine and cannabis containing products, including marijuana, THC, and CBD (76 percent), while some report using cannabis containing products only (20 percent) and a few report using nicotine containing products only (four percent).
A wide range of brand names and packaging descriptions have been reported and testing has revealed that products with identical packaging often have different chemical components. While vitamin E acetate has been strongly correlated with many cases, a definitive cause has not yet been identified. In New York State, patients have ranged in age from 14 to 69 years old.
Nationally, 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury have been reported from 38 states and one U.S. territory. Additionally, seven deaths have been confirmed in six states.
Various symptoms have been reported upon presentation, including headache; fatigue; nausea; cough; pleuritic chest pain; shortness of breath; fever; diarrhea; anorexia; and weight loss.
Symptom onset has ranged from days to weeks prior to presentation, and all cases have consistently reported regular use of various vape products. At this time, all reported NYS cases have required hospitalization.
- Nancy Kriz