Public Health Threat: Vaping

Author:
Jessica Pizanie

What is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of smoking utilizing battery-powered vaping devices that allow the users to inhale, or vape, aerosolized liquid (e-juice). The devices used to vape are referred to as “e-cigarettes” and are known to be the most commonly used tobacco product amongst youth. It is important to note that the aerosol in the e-cigarette is not harmless water vapor but is in fact made up of multiple harmful substances. Those substances in the e-cigarette aerosol include:

Risky Business

Vaping e-cigarettes has become a public health threat as 1,080 lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 48 states and 1 United States territory. Pulmonary illnesses are specific to those lung injuries that have been rapidly affecting e-cigarette users. Along with those injuries, 18 deaths have been confirmed in 15 states. The number of e-cigarette related injury and death is increasing day by day, which really heightens the importance of knowing the risks, knowing the symptoms to watch for, and ceasing e-cigarette use immediately. Of those reported injuries and deaths, 80% include patients under 35 years old. A large portion of that 80% include kids and teenagers.

  • 16% of those patients are under 18 years old
  • 21% of those patients are 18 to 20 years old

Marketed to Our Youth

There is an unfortunate trend of vaping amongst kids, teens, and young adults of whom are the main group affected by the recent injuries and death. Reports state that a large majority of youth began to vape due to the flavor varieties offered for their e-cigarettes. The variety includes candy, fruit, and other kid-friendly flavors. Another reason youth report using e-cigarettes is because they believe the products are less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Marketers claim that this is a healthier and more cost-effective alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes, all while having a flavorful taste. Overall there is a high-appeal to kids, teens, and young adults to vape using e-cigarettes because of the widespread advertising of lower costs, flavor options, and misinformation presented of them being “healthier” alternatives to conventional cigarettes.

Symptoms

Do you vape using e-cigarettes and feel you are falling ill? These are the symptoms of lung injury reported by some patients involved in this outbreak:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain

It has been reported that these symptoms can develop over a few days to even several weeks. If you feel like you are developing symptoms like these, see a healthcare provider immediately.

What’s the Bottom Line?

  • If you have never smoked or used tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, don’t start. E-cigarettes are known to lead to conventional cigarette smoking and may cause harmful illnesses.
  • If you recently used an e-cigarette product and begin having symptoms like those reported in the outbreak, see a healthcare provider.
  • If you are a regular e-cigarette user, do not return to smoking conventional cigarettes and monitor yourself for symptoms. If symptoms arise, see a healthcare provider immediately.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Multiple treatment options for quitting tobacco are available.
  • Lastly, spread this information liberally amongst friends, family, and loved ones to help avoid lung injury or worse, death.

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