As the investigation continues into a national outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes and vaping products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that persons stop using products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Based on data collected as of October 15, 86% of patients experiencing symptoms of the lung disease used THC-containing products in the three months preceding illness.
While not legal in Alabama, THC-containing vaping products can be obtained from informal or illicit sources. The products are being frequently used in Alabama, especially by teens and young adults.
As of October 29, 1,888 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products were reported by 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thirty-seven deaths have been confirmed in 24 states, including one death in Alabama. The median age of patients who have died is 44 years, ranging from 17 to 75 years old.
Alabama healthcare providers have reported 9 cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping as of October 30. The 9 cases, 5 confirmed and 4 probable, are included in the national counts for the CDC.
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.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recommends all consumers of non-regulated vape products voluntarily stop using them until the national and state investigations into vaping-related deaths and illnesses are complete. ADPH has requested that healthcare providers report any cases of suspected serious respiratory illness they treat among patients who use electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices through the Report Card located on the ADPH website.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris especially urged women who are pregnant, youth and young people to refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping products. In addition, he cautioned the public, “Never buy any type of e-cigarette or vaping products off the street, especially those containing THC, and do not modify or add any substances to these products bought at retail establishments.”
Alabama law prohibits the sale or transfer of vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors. Other states have reported that counterfeit e-cigarettes are of special concern and some states have moved to temporarily ban the sale of vaping products.
Free help is available for Alabama residents who are ready to stop using e-cigarettes or vaping products as well as traditional tobacco. 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_