By now you’ve probably heard about the serious lung injuries affecting over a thousand people across the country, including here in Washington state—and many of them are teens and young adults. People affected experience symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and vomiting, and fever. The symptoms have been so bad that people have been hospitalized and some have even died.
Right now, there is an ongoing investigation into the exact cause of the lung injuries. And we know that you have a lot of questions. We’re here to help clear the air.
Q: Why are people getting sick? How serious is it?
A: We’re still trying to understand the cause, but the Washington State Department of Health and others across the country—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—are trying hard to find answers. This is a serious situation with real short- and long-term health impacts, and we’re doing all we can to get accurate information in order to keep people safe and healthy.
Q: What products are making people sick?
A: We don’t have an answer to that just yet. But we can tell you that to stay safe and healthy, you should avoid ALL vapor products—aka JUULs, e-cigarettes, e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, mods, tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems—which can contain nicotine, marijuana (THC or CBD), or other substances like flavoring agents or other chemicals. Any type of vaping can stand between you and living your healthiest life.
Q: So which is safer, smoking or vaping?
A: Every drug carries risks and we don’t like to point fingers at which is worse. We always recommend avoiding both vaping products and regular cigarettes (sometimes called combustible cigarettes) in order to stay healthy. Right now, we’re concerned with the serious health consequences seen among teens and young adults from using vapor products, and this outbreak only highlights that there is still a lot we don’t know about these products and their safety.
Q: Am I safe if I buy legal products from a vape shop?
A: No. Both legal and black-market products have been linked to lung injury. To stay safe and healthy, it’s important to avoid ALL vapor products, including nicotine, flavors, and those containing THC or CBD. Vapor products containing marijuana also comes with the added risk of impacting brain development, learning, and memory among teens and young adults. And if you’re under 21, vaping any product will be illegal starting January 1, 2020.
Q: How can marijuana harm people when it’s sometimes used as a medicine?
A: We know a lot of adults use medical marijuana for approved conditions, but like any other drug, it does have side effects—no matter how it’s used. And if you’re under 21, those side effects can be even more significant and impact things like brain development, learning, and memory.
Q: What should I do if I’m worried about someone who vapes?
A: The best thing you can do is encourage them to quit vaping as soon as possible, no matter if they’re a teen or an adult. If someone you know begins to show symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury—like coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or vomiting, and fever—it’s important that they see a doctor as soon as possible.
It’s time to ditch the vape. Vaping gets in the way of lung health—which is critical to helping you breath freely and achieve the things you love, like running a 5k, trying a new activity, meditating, or exploring the beautiful trails of Washington state.
You can be healthy. Vaping won’t help you get there.
NEED HELP QUITTING?
- Call 1-866-TEENLINK or visit teenlink.org
- Download the free smartphone app, 2Morrow Health by visiting WA.GOV/QUIT and following the registration prompts to receive an activation code and password.