Local health commissioner says vaping is not safe


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging the public to avoid using vapes following an outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping.

The CDC defines a vape as a device that heats a liquid “to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.”

According to the CDC, there are 530 reported cases of lung injury in 38 states and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have also been seven confirmed deaths linked to lung injury. These cases involve patients with a history of vaping nicotine products, THC products (sometimes referred to as dabs) and CBD oils. The CDC is investigating the specific causes of vape-related lung injury.

Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner told The Times-Gazette, “I don’t get the sense that there are underlying health conditions in these cases. Part of the concern is that this is happening to otherwise healthy people who are coming down with these severe respiratory injuries and illnesses, and they have a history of vaping.”

At this point in time, it’s not clear how long a person would need to vape in order to be at risk for lung injury, but Warner pointed out that the CDC is specifically looking at people who have used a vape product 90 days before they begin experiencing lung injury symptoms, which include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and abdominal pain, according to the CDC.

“[The symptoms] are nothing really specific that would jump out at a person and say, ‘This is definitely from vaping,’” Warner said. “Unfortunately, going into flu season, that might make things interesting on the public health side. How do we keep trying to find these cases and better identify what’s going on here?”

Having an underlying respiratory condition like lung injury could also potentially make getting the flu more serious, Warner told The Times-Gazette.

However, the Health Department and schools alike are also facing another problem: teen vaping.

“In Ohio, there was 78 percent increase in one year among high schoolers. Ohio-wide, 1 in 5 high schoolers are vaping now,” Warner said. “We still have higher rates [of tobacco use] than the rest of the state, and the state has higher rates than the rest of the nation, but in general, we’re seeing our tobacco usage rate decline because we’ve done a good job of communicating the risk. There’s a perception on the student’s behalf that, ‘This is risky behavior. I shouldn’t use cigarette products,’ but vaping is so new that there’s not [the same] risk perception.”

Warner pointed out that the first vape appeared in 2007, and Juul arrived in 2015.

“We haven’t had vapes that long,” Warner said. “We studied tobacco for 80 years, so we have these long case histories and individual medical histories. We know what tobacco will do. But we’ve only been using vapes for a little over 10 years with widespread use for less than five years. We truly don’t know the long term effects of vaping.”

The CDC is still determining a complete list of health risks associated with vaping, but both the CDC and Warner encouraged people to stay away from vaping in the meantime.

“We know cartridges contain cancer-causing chemicals. We know they have heavy metals like nickel and tin and lead in them. They’ve got particles that can get deep in your lungs,” Warner said. “Vaping is not safe.”

Both the CDC and Warner warn against buying vape liquids off the street or modifying them yourself. If you vape and are currently experiencing symptoms connected with lung injury, the CDC recommends contacting your health care provider. For resources to help with kicking a vaping or tobacco habit, go to ohio.quitlogix.org/en-US or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner holds up a Juul, a popular vaping device, and a Juul pod, which contains vaping liquid infused with nicotine.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2019/09/web1_Warner-vape-pic-1.jpgHighland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner holds up a Juul, a popular vaping device, and a Juul pod, which contains vaping liquid infused with nicotine. Courtesy of Jared Warner
A rise in vape-related lung injury has health officials worried

By McKenzie Caldwell

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