As officials investigate 215 possible cases of vaping-related illness — one of which ended in death — the Centers for Disease Control is issuing a warning to people who vape. On Friday, they told people not to use ingredients bought on the street, and to stop modifying their e-cigarette devices. They added:
“E-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products,” they said in a health advisory. “If you use e-cigarette products, monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health.”
The New York Times points out that the CDC took an “unusual step” by releasing this guidance since officials have yet to pinpoint a specific vaping product that’s causing people to get sick with serious respiratory problems.
When people are vaping, it means they’re usually inhaling a mixture of flavoring, chemicals, and nicotine or THC into their lungs through a device such as a e-cig, vape pen, or even an e-hookah. The New York Times reports that some doctors have said vaping THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, is specifically causing some of the lung issues. E-cigarettes are often billed as a way for smokers to ween off cigarettes, but the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved them as an aid for quitting.
We still don’t have enough scientific information about the long-term impacts of vaping, and there are a lot of unknowns.
The CDC warning comes days after a USA Today op-ed questioned the CDC for staying quiet amid the high number of vaping-related health issues.
“Based on what we know now, I think there’s enough to tell people: Don’t vape THC oils – especially products that are bought off the street,” Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel told USA Today for a Wednesday story. "There are certain things the agency could be recommending right now that could potentially save lives and prevent this from happening by being much more specific.”
And now, it seems, they’re doing just that.