Why It’s Time to Stop Vaping Now

The news is only getting worse for e-cigarettes, which the CDC has linked to more than 450 possible cases of lung disease. We’ve got the latest plus advice on how to stay safe.

by Stephanie Stephens Health Writer

The simmering pot of speculation appears to have finally boiled over, as worries about the dangers of vaping have prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn you to think before you vape, either with e-cigarettes or a vaping device. And by “think” we mean don’t do it.

So far, the agency reported more than 450 possible cases of vaping-related lung illness from 33 states. While no single product or substance was linked to all the cases, infectious diseases were ruled out as a cause, leaving chemical exposure as the likely culprit, according to another CDC statement. The reason? Treatment with antibiotics was ineffective but corticosteroids, a type of anti-inflammatory medicine, helped many.

Affected patients experienced initial symptoms such as cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms included rapid heartbeat, flu-like symptoms such as fever chills and tiredness, along with gastrointestinal symptoms. The real danger: Some patients then developed hypoxemia (low oxygen levels), which can lead to respiratory failure.

An E-Cigarette Manufacturer Is Put On Notice

On May 1, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and others had sent a letter to the FDA asking the agency for a thorough investigation and to take action against the marketing of JUUL Labs products that claim they help users stop smoking. This week, the FDA responded.

On September 9, the agency sent e-cigarette maker a terse warning letter saying that the manufacturer has not been truthful about its products being less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Without prompt correction of the violations, the company faces financial penalties, seizure, or an injunction. JUUL has 15 working days to respond.

What You Should Do—or Not Do

Here's what the CDC and FDA want to share with you to help prevent any vaping-related health issues.

  1. First, if you do vape and then develop health issues, see a doctor, who also can then report your case to your local or state health department. The doctor should ask about your history of using e-cigarettes and actually obtain your device to submit for analysis.

  2. Pregnant women, teenagers, and young adults should not use e-cigarette products at all. Nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm brain development.

  3. If you don't already use tobacco products, don't start using e-cigarettes.

  4. Don't buy products on the street, don't tamper with them, or add any other substance to them.

  5. Just as you'd be advised on how to stop smoking, it you want to quit e-cigarettes, use what's been proven to work: evidence-based treatments, counseling, and FDA-approved medications. If you need help ask for it from your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Then Surgeon General also shares this about nicotine:

  • It can also make it harder to concentrate, learn, or control impulses.

  • It can "train" your brain to crave other harmful drugs like meth and cocaine.

  • Quitting is hard to do, but it is doable, especially with help.

Stephanie Stephens
Meet Our Writer
Stephanie Stephens

Stephanie Stephens is a very experienced digital journalist, audio/video producer and host who covers health, healthcare and health policy, along with celebrities and their health, for a variety of publications, websites, networks, content agencies and other distinctive clients. Stephanie was accepted to THREAD AT YALE for summer 2018 to author and produce an investigative series. She is also active in the animal welfare community.