The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned against vaping as it investigates at least 215 instances of severe respiratory disease potentially linked to electronic cigarettes.
“Youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes … anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street,” the CDC said in an Aug. 30 statement.
Patients in 25 states reported symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and chest pain prior to being hospitalized, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) said in an Aug. 30 statement. Some patients reported gastrointestinal illnesses like vomiting and diarrhea. Others reported fevers and fatigue, according to the FDA.
“Whether it’s smoking or e-cigarettes, you are inhaling materials for which the system was not designed,” said SF State professor Erik Peper, an internationally regarded expert on holistic health and biofeedback. “Very powerful conditioners are smell and taste — by using flavored e-cigarettes, you are in fact making people more likely to become addicted.”
E-cigarette usage has skyrocketed from 1.5% to 20.8% among high school students between 2011 and 2018, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Among the 215-plus cases of severe respiratory illnesses that federal and state agencies are investigating, one ended in a fatality in Illinois last week.
Despite collaborating with states to conduct their investigations, neither the FDA nor CDC has pinpointed a single e-cigarette product or substance causing the symptoms or illnesses.
Nonetheless, numerous research centers, including the CDC, recommend e-cigarettes over tobacco products. The Royal College of Physicians, representing more than 35,000 doctors globally, has advised regulating e-cigarettes in a balanced way that encourages tobacco smokers to make the switch.