On August 23, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement addressing the first suspected fatality in Illinois linked to severe lung disease caused by e-cigarette use, or vaping:
“This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products. Vaping exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms – including flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids, and solvents. CDC has been warning about the identified and potential dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping since these devices first appeared. E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
TheCDCreported earlier in August that it was investigating a cluster of mysterious lung diseases possibly linked to e-cigarettes, mostly among young adults. According to the report, 94 cases of severe lung disease with a suspected link to vaping were reported in 14 states from late June to early August.
Vaping is NOT Risk-Free
Prior to the CDC’s reports this summer, many people, consumers and stake-holders alike, believed that e-cigarettes were a safer alternative than traditional cigarettes, with some clinicians even recommending e-cigarettes as a tobacco cessation tool. However, this assumption is a fallacy… because the products are new to the market, within the last 10 years, not enough research exists on the health effects of e-cigarettes. Current users today can almost be considered “guineau pigs” to understanding the hazards of e-cigarettes. Additionally, the FDA has never approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
While CDC and state health officials continue to investigate vaping’s link to the serious lung conditions, the following lists some known facts about the hazards of e-cigarettes:
- Most of them contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, toxic to developing fetuses, and can harm adolescent brain development.
- The aerosol includes known chemical carcinogens as well as tiny respirable particles that can travel deep into the lungs.
- Recent evidence has shown more airway inflammation, suppressed immune response, and reduced anti-viral response among e-cigarette users.
- E-cigarettes can also cause unintended injuries from defective batteries, which have caused fires and explosions, and from nicotine toxicity when children and adults misuse the e-cigarette liquid.
Young Adults are Most At-Risk
E-cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. market in the mid-2000’s, and since then, sales of e-cigarettes have skyrocketed, especially among youth, with e-cigarettes use growing an astounding 1300% among high school students from 2011 to 2018. With this new possible association between vaping and lung disease, young people are more at risk than ever to the hazards of e-cigarettes, which are now the most commonly used tobacco products among this age group.
For Dental Practitioners
All healthcare professionals should promote healthy living, including abstinence from tobacco use, as part of their patients’ treatments. With this new information about a possible link between vaping and serious lung disease/death, dental practitioners have a professional responsibility to provide this information about e-cigarettes to patients, especially young people, to be included as part of an office’s tobacco cessation and intervention plan.
For our OSHA Review Subscribers… the July/August 2019 issue of OSHA Review covers tobacco cessation and prevention interventions in a dental office.
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