State Health Dept. advises against vaping

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health are advising people not to vape.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine recently announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Health has confirmed one death and multiple cases attributed to lung injuries associated with vaping in Pennsylvania and recommends that people do not vape.

For those unfamiliar with the term “vape” it involves the use of electronic cigarettes. An electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, is a handheld battery-powered vaporizer that simulates smoking and provides some of the behavioral aspects of smoking, including the hand-to-mouth action of smoking, but without burning tobacco. Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping.”

“The lung injury cases are very serious, life-threatening and even fatal,” Levine said. “We do not yet know what is making people sick, and whether the illnesses are related to products being used, or potentially the delivery of those products. I strongly urge everyone who is vaping illegally bought products, in particular those with THC, to stop. In addition, there could be possible risks with legally purchased products. We want to warn people that investigations are ongoing and we advise they use extreme caution before using any vaping product at this time.”

Pennsylvania has reported nine confirmed and 12 probable cases of the lung illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are investigating an additional 63 cases. Each of the individuals involved in the cases have suffered serious lung injuries and most have been hospitalized.

“Many medications carry risk and vaping medical marijuana products sold in our dispensaries carries risk in the same way that other medications do,” Dr. Levine said. “If you are vaping, whether as part of the medical marijuana program or not, it is essential that you have an honest conversation with your physician about the potential risk for serious illness.”

Signs and symptoms of a potential lung injury associated with vaping include: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss.

Additional information on e-cigarettes, the dangers of vaping, and how to quit smoking can be found on the Department of Health’s website at health.pa.gov.