Lungs, Marijuana, Vaping

Officials warn county residents about severe lung disease associated use of e-cigarettes and THC products

Health Alert from Dr. Jeff Duchin – Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County

As of August 27, 2019, hundreds of possible cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use have been reported from 25 states, and more are under investigation. One patient (in Illinois) with a history of recent e-cigarette use with severe pulmonary disease died. 

No cases have been reported from Washington state as of August 30, 2019.  

Many patients have reported using e-cigarettes containing cannabinoid products such as THC or cannabidiol (CBD). To date, no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently linked with the illnesses.  

Many patients have described having a cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain and some have had nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms started a few days to several weeks after e-cigarette use.  

  • Youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes.  
  • Anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer, including THC products and other cannabinoids.
  • Promptly seek medical attention if you use e-cigarette products and experience symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea or fatigue.
  • Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should talk with their doctor about evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your doctor or a support quit line.
  • If you are concerned about harmful effects from e-cigarette productscall WA Poison Control Center at: 1-800-222-1222.  

We encourage the public to submit detailed reports of any unexpected tobacco or e-cigarette-related health or product issues to the FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal:

About E-cigarettes

  • E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, most also contain flavorings and other chemicals, and some may contain marijuana or other substances. 
  • They can contain harmful or potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals (e.g., lead), volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing chemicals. 
  • E-cigarettes are known by many different names and come in many shapes, sizes and device types. Devices may be referred to as “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” “mods,” tanks, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Some e-cigarette devices resemble cigarettes; USB flash drives, pens, and flashlights; and others have unique shapes. Use of e-cigarettes is sometimes referred to as “vaping” or “juuling.” E-cigarettes used for dabbing are sometimes called “dab” pens.
  • Some e-cigarette products are used to deliver illicit substances from “the street” that could increase their potential for harm to theuser. For example, some e-cigarette pods or cartridges marketed for single use can be refilled with illicit or unknown substances. 
  • E-cigarettes containing nicotine may have the potential to help some individual adult smokers reduce their use of and transition away from cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a quit smoking aid, and the available science is inconclusive on whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting smoking. 

Originally posted on 8/30/19