The Alabama Health Department is in the process of investigating nearly half a dozen possible breathing illnesses tied to vaping. In Tennessee, health officials are reporting 6 cases.
Doctors are reporting hundreds of people across the country are suffering severe lung illness. At least 5 people have died. Now, state and federal officials are trying to figure out why.
”We are seeing the very tip of the iceberg. If these products are being used in all 50 states, I think it’s just a matter of time until we see health cases in all 50 states,” youth tobacco prevention coordinator Anne Marie Martin said.
She says her biggest issue is people not being informed about the dangers of vaping. Now, she’s trying to change that.
“I quit cold turkey,” Hughes said.
Angela Hughes quit smoking cigarettes 10 years ago after her grandmother passed away with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She knows how hard it is for people to quit,
“It’s hard. It’s really hard. I mean I chewed gum for 2 weeks straight. It was rough,” Hughes said.
She’s never vaped before. She says she thought it was a safer alternative at first, but now she’s worried about what vapers are putting in their bodies.
“I mean you go down the road and you see people have this big old vape cloud, and you just wonder what is in that?” Hughes said.
Anne Marie Martin is the youth tobacco prevention coordinator at partnership for a drug-free community. She says it’s scary how quickly the number of deaths and cases are increasing. That’s why her job to inform people in the community is so important.
“We don’t know how bad this could be. People need to be careful,” Martin said.
Health officials say no single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses. Martin says the chemicals in the vaping liquid can cause enough damage on their own.
“You’re getting a lot of nicotine. Also, the flavors. Even for an e-cigarette that doesn’t contain nicotine, some of the flavoring chemicals can scar your lungs,” Hughes explained.
Martin says if people like Hughes want to quit there are other proven methods to help them kick their habit.
“If you want to quit smoking, Alabama quit line has some programs that are proven to stop smoking,” Martin said.
Health officials are urging people to stop vaping until they figure out what’s making people sick.