Health officials are investigating an outbreak of lung illnesses related to e-cigarette use or vaping. Nationwide, there have been hundreds of cases of lung disease, including several cases in New York City.
Electronic cigarettes – or e-cigarettes – are battery-powered devices that heat liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The act of using an e-cigarette is called vaping.
E-cigarette liquids do not contain tobacco, but they almost always contain flavorings and nicotine, which is addictive. E-liquids may also contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinoid (CBD) oils or other substances and additives.
So far, health officials have not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product linked to lung disease. However, Dr. Kelly Kyanko, primary care physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, is recommending that New Yorkers stop using e-cigarette products.
Dr. Kelly Kyanko, primary care physician, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
“Until we know more, New Yorkers should consider stopping use of e-cigarettes or vaping products,” said Dr. Kyanko, who is also director of Bellevue’s Stop Smoking Program.
“If you are an adult who uses e-cigarettes because you have quit cigarette smoking, don’t return to smoking cigarettes. See your doctor or find a smoking cessation program to help you quit.”
Here are five things you need to know about e-cigarettes and vaping.
Watch for symptoms of lung illness – Some people who smoked e-cigarettes, developed symptoms over a few days. Others said that their symptoms developed over several weeks. If you have used an e-cigarette or vaping product and have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away.
Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain
Health risks – We do not know the long-term effects of e-cigarettes.
But, the aerosol from heated e-liquids can contain harmful chemicals, such as:
Formaldehyde and benzene, which can cause cancer
Diacetyl from flavoring, which is linked to lung disease
Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead
Don’t use e-cigarettes to help quit smoking – E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA to help people quit smoking. If you are an adult who uses e-cigarettes because you quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes. Instead, we recommend nicotine patches, nicotine gum or FDA approved medications which can double your chances of success.
Teens are at risk – Youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes later. If you are a parent or guardian, talk to your children about the risks of using e-cigarettes. Encourage an open, ongoing conversation.
Find support to help you quit – If you are looking for help to quit smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes, contact one of our smoking cessation programs. Call 1-844-NYC-4NYC.