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6 facts you need to know about vaping and lung disease

Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Alvestad
by Jessica Alvestad09/12/2019 3:37 p.m.
Updated: 09/13/2019

What does “safe” mean to you?

Is something safe if it makes hundreds of people sick?

Is something safe if it’s actively killing people?

If your answer to either of those is no—and it should be—you can help stop the harmful message that vape is a safe alternative to smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products.  Hundreds of people are sick. At least 6 are dead. On Sept. 11, the state Department of Health announced a King County teen was treated for acute respiratory failure. It’s the first known serious vape-related illness in our state, but we fear it won’t be the last.

e-cigarette

Partly because vaping is relatively new, myths easily get mixed up with the truth. Here are 6 facts about vaping:

  1. Vaping is NOT safe. Do you think vaping is a safe alternative smoking? Think again. More than 450 cases of severe pulmonary illnesses related to vaping have been reported recently, and that number grows daily. Healthy people are falling seriously ill very quickly. Cigarette users might take years or even decades to become seriously ill. In these recent cases, it happens much faster with e-cigarette products.
  2. We don’t know which products or ingredients are causing these illnesses. Investigators haven’t been able rule anything out yet. People have become sick after vaping both THC and nicotine (or both, in some cases). And in many cases, nobody can even say for certain what ingredients are in these products.
  3. Vapes contain toxic chemicals—including some you might not think are toxic. It’s no secret vape products contain nicotine, widely known as a highly toxic chemical. But there is a very real danger from ingredients you might think are harmless. These additives are fine if you ingest them, but undergo dramatic chemical changes when vaporized. Things like vitamin E, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are fine in your food. But they can become very dangerous when vaped.
  4. The FDA doesn’t regulate vapor products. This means you have no idea what you will ultimately be breathing deep into your lungs. And if you use homemade or off-the-market products, you face additional risk.
  5. Lots of Pierce County kids are vaping. More than 1 in 5 10th graders in the 2018 Healthy Youth Survey reported vaping in the past 30 days. We’ve never seen a drug’s popularity increase so quickly. Just as alarming: they begin using vapes at younger ages than they did with cigarettes. Fruit flavors—which the FDA says it will soon ban—quickly hook young people.
  6. Your kids will listen to you about vapes (really!). Even if you think your kids don’t use e-cigarette products, talk to them about the dangers. A caring adult can influence kids’ decisions—even when it seems like they’re not listening.

You can read more on our vaping and e-cigarettes page. 

  1. Updated: 09/13/2019
Health Promotion Coordinator Jessica Alvestad

by Jessica Alvestad

Jessica supports our community outreach efforts to empower residents to achieve better health outcomes.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.