The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, state and local health departments, and other health experts issued a stark warning Sept. 6 for young smokers to stop vaping after over 450 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigarette products were reported to the CDC in 33 states and 1 U.S. territory, including California.
The outbreak has resulted in six confirmed deaths, the most recent in Kansas on Tuesday, Sept. 10, after which state health departments reported confirmed or suspected cases at 478, a jump of 28 cases in four days.
The CDC notes the “clinical similarities” among the cases is e-cigarette use aligned with the CDC emergency health advisory issued on August 30.
While most patients have been in their 20s and 30s, the Kansas woman was in her 50s with a history of health problems, NBC News reported Tuesday.
“She had some underlying medical illnesses, but nothing that would have foretold the fact that within a week after starting using e-cigarettes for the first time, she developed full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome and died,” Dr. Lee Norman, secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told NBC News. “It’s a reminder that older people with pre-existing illnesses are probably going to have worse clinical outcomes if they do develop problems with vaping….I’m sure we’ll see more.”
Meanwhile, On Sept. 9, the FDA warned popular e-cigarette maker Juul to stop marketing their product as much safer than other nicotine/tobacco products without evidence to back up the claim.
This is particularly concerning for the LGBTQ community which is seeing a comeback in smoking, as the Los Angeles Blade reported last July.
The Truth Initiative reports: “Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults smoke at rates up to 2.5 times higher than straight adults, due in part to targeted marketing by Big Tobacco. For years the tobacco industry has made efforts to appeal to LGBT consumers through things like targeted advertisements in LGBT press, cigarette giveaways and free tobacco industry merchandise. Today, the LGBT community is among the hardest hit by tobacco.”
“One thing has always been clear — Big Tobacco only cares about profits, regardless of the deadly consequences. And they’ll continue to target the LGBTQ community — and LGBTQ kids in particular — because they don’t see us as people; they see us as ‘scum.’ The products may change, but Big Tobacco will continue profiting off our deaths until we stand up and fight back,” Beatriz Valenzuela, spokesperson for Equality California, told the Los Angeles Blade.
The CDC suggests contacting your local poison control center if you’re concerned about your health after using an e-cigarette product at 1-800-222-1222.