Keep calm and vape on: UK embraces e-cigarettes, US cautious

FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 17, 2018 file photo, a man breathes vapes from an e-cigarette at a vape shop in London. While the U.S. scrambles to crack down on vaping, Britain has embraced electronic cigarettes as a powerful tool to help smokers kick the habit.

An East Alabama adult man is the state’s first confirmed death from a vaping-associated injury, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced Wednesday.

The death comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues its investigation of a multi-state outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping.

The CDC is investigating more than 805 lung injury cases in 46 states and 1 U.S. territory. Twelve deaths have now been confirmed in a total of 10 states (Alabama is not included in this number).

Two-thirds of the cases being investigated by the CDC involve patients who are 18-34 years old. As of October 1, there were 19 Alabama residents under investigation.

Of the 19 reports, 4 cases have been identified and 9 other reports are still under investigation in Alabama; 3 have been identified as probable cases; 1 confirmed case (the deceased), of lung disease associated with vaping.

National counts will be updated on Thursday.

Those seeking medical attention due to potential vaping-associated injury should immediately inform healthcare providers they used a vaping/e-cigarette product (i.e., vape pens, liquids, refill pods and cartridges).

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.

ADPH is asking persons who sought medical care for a potential vaping-related injury to contact Jamey Durham at (334) 206-5634 if they have any vaping/e-cigarette products that can be obtained for testing purposes.

ADPH recommends that all consumers consider refraining from the use of e-cigarettes and vape products until national and state investigations into vaping-related deaths and illnesses are complete.

Those who choose to continue the use of e-cigarettes and vape products should not buy these products off the street or from unregulated sources. Consumers should avoid modifying or adding any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.

Consumers with nicotine addiction who have used e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking should not return to the use of conventional cigarettes.

ADPH has requested that health care providers report any cases of suspected serious respiratory illness they treat among patients who use electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices.

“The use of any tobacco product is unsafe. While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “Furthermore, there is no situation in which these devices should be used by pregnant women or youths.”

Alabama law now prohibits the sale or transfer of vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors.

Free help is available for individuals who are ready to kick the tobacco habit at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or quitnowalabama.com.

For additional information on electronic cigarettes and their health effects, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm.

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