The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending that people consider not using electronic cigarette and vape products (i.e., vape pens, liquids, refill pods and cartridges) until national and state investigations into vaping-related deaths and illnesses are complete.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a cluster of severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes or vape products, with more than 800 cases of lung injury reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory. Two-thirds of cases are 18 – 34 years old, and 12 deaths have been confirmed so far in 10 states.
As of September 25, there were 16 Alabama residents under investigation. Of the 16 reports, 2 cases have been ruled out; 2 have been identified as probable cases of lung disease associated with vaping. Alabama is currently not included in the national case numbers.
Those who choose to continue the use of e-cigarettes and vape products should not buy these products off the street or from unregulated sources. Consumers should avoid modifying or adding any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. Consumers with nicotine addiction who have used e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking should not return to the use of conventional cigarettes.
Patients have experienced symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with symptoms growing worse over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Most of the cases are among adolescents and young adults.
ADPH has requested that health care providers report any cases of suspected serious respiratory illness they treat among patients who use electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “The use of any tobacco product is unsafe. While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product. Furthermore, there is no situation in which these devices should be used by pregnant women or youths.”
Alabama law now prohibits the sale or transfer of vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors. Free help is available for Alabama residents who are ready to kick the tobacco habit. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline number is 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or residents may visit quitnowalabama.com for help.
The Quitline provides individualized coaching to help any type of smoker or tobacco user, including e-cigarettes and vape, to quit. In addition, the Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to those medically eligible and enrolled in the program. Quitline coaching services are available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight.
For additional information on electronic cigarettes and their health effects, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm. For more information on quitting tobacco, please visit ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control at alabamapublichealth.gov/tobacco.