Shasta County health officials are warning the public that the recent serious lung illnesses being reported across the country further solidifies the fact that use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping, is unsafe.
Ever since vaping began, the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, along with its Tobacco Education Coalition members, have been actively spreading the message that e-cigarettes are not a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes but simply trading one addiction for another. “The simple fact is that the long-term health effects of vaping are not known, and the recent rise in potentially deadly lung illnesses are shining a light on the unknown risks of vaping,” says Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom. “Of particular concern is vaping by youth, which can harm the developing brain and expose young people to several toxic substances in the aerosol.” Additionally, any potential benefits of using e-cigarettes to stop smoking are unsubstantiated and recent studies indicate they can increase future cigarette smoking.
Reminiscent of the tobacco industry, the marketing of vape products to young people is targeted and extreme. The devices are physically attractive, labeled with catchy names, and the flavors are kid-friendly. Once exposed to nicotine, young people are particularly vulnerable to addiction and the market benefits.
In a Health Alert, the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency recently notified local health providers to be on the lookout for potential vaping-related lung illnesses and to follow recommended reporting procedures should a case present itself to their medical practices. The outbreak of vaping associated lung injury is of such urgent concern that the CDC and the California Department of Public Health have activated their emergency operations in order to expedite the response.
While the recent cases only heighten awareness, the agency’s recommendation is unchanged: the known health risks and the harms that are still being studied support a strong recommendation that everyone should refrain from using e-cigarette or vaping products.
If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have respiratory symptoms like those reported in this outbreak, seek the attention of a healthcare provider and inform the provider of the vaping products you have been using.
If you use e-cigarette or vaping products:
- Do not buy these products (e.g., e-cigarette or vaping products with THC, other cannabinoids) off the street, and do not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
If you are an adult who uses e-cigarettes because you want to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes. If you are an adult who is trying to quit smoking:
- Contact your healthcare provider if you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
- Use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and medically-approved quitting aids.
For more information on the dangers of e-cigarettes and smoking and to find resources to quit, go to www.tobaccofreeshasta.org.