BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – State and local health officials are sharing a warning to remind people that vaping is not a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.
The New York State-issued health advisory says that, of around 100 cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with vaping, 15 of them were diagnosed in New York.
Of those 15, 10 of the cases are in Western New York. The State DOH would not reveal what towns or cities the cases were reported in. The rest are either downstate or in the Capital Region.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and State Department of Health have launched an investigation.
The age demographics range from 18 to 49 years old, but Erie County’s Health Commissioner says many share common signs or symptoms, including cough, chest pain with breathing, shortness of breath, and in many cases, x-rays that reveal opaque sections of patients’ lower lungs.
The known cases are associated with people who vaped using products with either THC or nicotine.
“Vaping is not safe. As more and more people are using it, especially at younger ages, we’re seeing now pictures of severe, adverse health effects from vaping,” said Dr. Gale Burstein on Wednesday.
Just last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo raised the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21 years old, partly to try and help combat the rise in teen vaping. Across the U.S., more than a fifth of all high schoolers vaped or at least tried it.
Dr. Burstein wants to remind people that vape liquids – the stuff you buy to put in an e-cigarette – are not regulated by the FDA.
“We have no idea what their contents are,” she said.
In fact, she says some vape juices have been found to have higher concentrations of nicotine than a pack of cigarettes.
“Regardless of the pathology, the message is still the same: Vaping is not healthy. Electronic nicotine devices or e-cigarettes are not healthy, regardless of what you put in them. The vapor that’s elicited is not just benign water vapor, it has toxins,” Dr. Burstein said.
Now, the state and CDC are trying to see if there’s any type of link between the types of products used. They’re asking all healthcare providers with patients who have suspected severe lung disease to get the names of recently used vape products, and even samples, to send to the State Health Department and New York Poison Control.