Health officials are amplifying their recommendation that people refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping, particularly products containing THC
At least 18 deaths and more than 1,000 cases of a mysterious lung illness have been linked with vaping by US health authorities.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said cases were up a quarter from last week.
The symptoms of those afflicted include chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath, but doctors have been unable to establish what is causing the illness.
Dr Anne Schuchat from the CDC said the outbreak was expected to continue.
“I cannot stress enough the seriousness of these injuries. This is a critical issue. We need to take steps to prevent additional cases,” Dr Schuchat said.
Vaping-related injuries have been confirmed in 48 states, with deaths in 15 of those. The average age of those who died is nearly 50. The youngest victim was in their 20s and the oldest was in their 70s.
CDC officials are intensifying their recommendation that people refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping, especially products containing THC.
Mysterious illnesses aside, many have accused e-cigarette manufacturers of exposing young people to addictive nicotine and luring them toward smoking. Advocates of the vaping ban also cite research on nicotine’s harmful effects on youth brain development.
E-cigarette makers have lobbied aggressively against new regulations and argue that their products can help smokers quit while giving those addicted to nicotine a safer option than smoking tobacco. They say they’re working to address underage vaping and warn that an outright ban could just replace regulated sales with a black market.
The CDC agrees that e-cigarettes can help smokers who substitute them for regular tobacco products, and health professionals believe vaping to be safer than traditional smoking, which kills 8 million people per year, according to the World Health Organisation.
The debate over vaping regulations has split the public health community, as some point to harm reduction for smokers while others emphasise the threat to youth. England’s public health agency cites estimates that the practice is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.
But given that the FDA has yet to vet vaping products, experts caution that the long-term consequences of using e-cigarettes remain unclear.
Whatever your predilection, it doesn’t require much thought to figure out that inhaling clouds of smoke into one’s lungs is not a good idea.
Human lungs have evolved to inhale air and deliver oxygen around the body. Every time we inhale something that is not air, we are insulting our lungs – and we’ll have to face the consequences of that.
If you would like to quit smoking, you’re more likely to succeed with the right support. Using your willpower is important but you’ll increase your chances of success if you get some additional help. Contact your GP, pharmacist or your local stop smoking service for more information.