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CDC Warns Against Vaping During Lung Illness Investigation

Federal experts are investigating reports of severe lung illnesses in people who used e-cigarettes (also known as vaping). So far at least 33 states have reported 450 confirmed and possible cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping, including several deaths. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are continuing to gather information on these cases to determine if specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices, or substances are linked to these illnesses. They are assisting state and local health officials and doctors on how to better understand the illnesses and their causes.

The CDC already recommends that children, teenagers, young adults, pregnant women, and people who do not currently use tobacco products should never use e-cigarettes. During the investigation of these cases of severe lung illness, the CDC advises that "people consider not using e-cigarettes."

For those who do vape, the CDC recommends:

  1. Do not buy e-cigarette products “off the street.”
  2. Do not modify e-cigarette products or add anything to them.
  3. If you have symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain, go to the doctor.
  4. If you are concerned about your health after using an e-cigarette product, call poison control: 1-800-222-1222.
  5. The CDC and FDA also encourage people who have any health or other problems related to tobacco or e-cigarette problems to report them to their online Safety Reporting Portal.

According to the CDC, many patients reported symptoms that started slowly, including having shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain. Some patients reported vomiting, diarrhea, or other stomach problems, as well as fever or fatigue. Some patients who reported symptoms said they used e-cigarette products that contained THC and other chemicals found in marijuana.

There is still a lot the CDC and FDA don’t know. So far, the health agencies have not found one specific product, chemical or substance that’s linked to all the cases, or whether the illnesses are different diseases with similar symptoms. The CDC and FDA are investigating the brand and types of e-cigarette products used and analyzing samples in their labs to determine if they contain nicotine, THC, or other chemicals or ingredients that could be causing the illnesses.

    Learn more about e-cigarettes

    E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and more research is needed over a longer period of time to know what the long-term effects may be. The American Cancer Society is closely watching for new research about the effects of using e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products.

    The vapor or aerosol that comes out of an e-cigarette can contain substances that are addictive and can cause lung disease, heart disease, and cancer. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is very addictive and can harm the brain development of teenagers. If used during pregnancy, nicotine may also cause premature births and low birthweight babies.

    “The American Cancer Society strongly urges that non-smokers should never start using e-cigarettes or vaping in any form,” said the Society’s Chief Cancer Control Officer, Dr. Richard C. Wender, MD. “Adult smokers who may be using vaping devices instead of smoking regular cigarettes should attempt to quit all nicotine containing substances, including e-cigarettes.  Adults who vape and are not ready or able to quit should only use unaltered e-cigarette products, should not purchase vaping products from an unknown source, and should not add anything to the devices.”

    The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

    Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.