Vaping Leading to Respiratory Issues Among Teens

Doctors say 150 hospitalizations reported nationwide

Tom Puckett
August 23, 2019 - 4:00 am
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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) About 150 teens have reported hospitalized around the country with respiratory issues associated with vaping. While doctors say they're not sure what the cause is, vaping experts in New York believe the have the answer.

Dr. Sanjay Sethi, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine at UB, says what exactly is causing the respiratory issues is a mystery. "It looks like an acute respiratory injury," says Sethi, who notes there's one such case in WNY. "Chances are it's not the nicotine because diluted in other ways, but it could be the additives or the flavorings, as they're not intended to be inhaled." Sethi also suggests there could be bacterial products inhaled in the vaping liquids as well.

Sethi says treating has also been a challenge. "One of the thoughs was infection, but antibiotics have not been successful. Steriods have been tried as they believe it's an inflammatory issued, but we just don't know what's going on," says Sethi.

Sethi says if teens have difficulty with nicotine withdrawal, they can look into treatments for that. "For most of them, it's just an issue of doing it because it's cool," notes Sethi. 

As far as a possible cause, Cheryl Richter of the New York State Vapor Association believes she can solve that mystery. "As these investigations have been reported, it seems clear, these were adulterated THC cartridges," says Richter. THC gives marijuana users the high. "It was confirmed by California, Indiana and Minnesota. This makes sense because THC in most of those states except California is an illegal product, so they're bought on the street."

Richter says the big difference in vaping liquid is water based, not oil based. "Another big difference is we have general manufacturing standards where most liquid bought in a vape shop is going to be from an isolab with testing that's been done," says Richter.

Richter says the association has worked with state lawmakers and the governor's office to create stringent rules, including physical ID scanners at the point of sale, and a three strikes rule for retailers.

Richter says while doctors have concerns about the flavorings in e-cigarettes, Richter says they serve an important purpose. "The flavors help people who have been addicted to tobacco for many years disassociate from the taste and the smell of it. Without flavors, the success rate of vaping wouldn't be as good," notes Richter.

Richter urges teens who haven't started vaping to not do it. "We don't want anybody doing it. I was 13 years old when I started smoking. We were hooked as kids and we don't want to see another generation be hooked," warns Richter.

 

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