With mounting concern over the mysterious vaping illness and six confirmed deaths, health officials warn about e-cigarette usage.
The use of vaping and e-cigarettes among young adults and teens has skyrocketed in the past years. An Illinois adult became the first person to die of a new emergence of lung disease related to vaping on Aug. 23, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Since then, five more people across the country have died from this lung illness related to vaping as of Sept. 10, according to CNN. With over 450 cases across 33 states and one territory, health officials are taking a closer look.
Much of the worry surrounding this illness initially came from marijuana-based vaping. Vitamin E acetate, an ingredient in some of the cannabis-based vaping cartridges, has a molecular structure that could possibly prove harmful, according to The Washington Post. Currently, the CDC does not have enough evidence to conclude that Vitamin E acetate is indefinitely the culprit, but it warns people to stay away from all e-cigarette products, according to a Sept. 6 CDC press release.
“I see it everywhere. I see it around campus, I see it at the airport. It's crazy to hear that it's deadly and that it could turn out really, really horribly,” said Bella Hartman, a sophomore theatre arts major. “I certainly know a lot of friends, actually, who have had this transformative summer and they have stopped using those products and that makes me really happy.”
The patients who are being hospitalized have reported using nicotine, marijuana or both in vaping devices within the past 90 days, according to The New York Times. While one of the patients who died bought the marijuana-based vaping cartridge from a legal dispensary, other patients have reported buying theirs “off the street," according to The Washington Post.
It was found that most of the patients were male with a median age of 19, in a study conducted by the states of Wisconsin and Illinois and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Since college-aged males are most at risk, LMU's Student Health Services (SHS) is working on a project to educate students according to Cindy Nakasuji, a nurse practitioner at SHS.
Nakasuji weighed in on the issue as it relates to LMU students. “We are currently planning a learning assessment project to educate our students with the latest information on the use of e-cigarettes,” she said.
On Sept. 10, LMU put out a health advisory on behalf of Student Health Services titled, "Health Advisory: Severe Pulmonary Disease Associated with Using E-Cigarette Products," which was sent to all students through the University Bulletin.
“This inflated perceived use of e-cigarettes could be contributing to the normalization of vaping. And normalization is not what we want to happen," said Nakasuji. "‘Everyone is not vaping and it is not harmless. The CDC and the Surgeon General agree that the use of c-cigarettes by kids, teens and young adults is unsafe.”