Vaping-associated Lung Injury and Young People: What You Need to Know

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By: 
Kristen Haley

The Washington State Department of Health is monitoring the outbreak of vaping-associated lung injury that has sickened hundreds across the country, including six people in Washington State (as of 9/24/2019). The condition is linked to the use of e-cigarettes and vapor products, which can contain THC (marijuana), nicotine, or flavored oils. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and fever.  Some extreme cases have resulted in death. The outbreak is especially alarming as most of the cases to date involve teens and young adults, who often use these devices to consume flavors.

Key things to know:

  1. The healthiest option is to not vape or smoke. Nicotine and marijuana are addictive and can harm the developing brain. Vapor products also contain other harmful chemicals. Youth, young adults, and pregnant or nursing women should ALWAYS avoid these products.
  2. Get treatment for symptoms. If you or your child use vapor products, monitor for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns. You can also call the Washington Poison Center at 1–800–222–1222.
  3. If you or someone you know needs help quitting, there are resources:
  • Washington Recovery Helpline: Free help with substance abuse. Call 1-866-789-1511 or visit warecoveryhelpline.org for 24/7 anonymous and confidential support.
  • 2morrow Health: A free smartphone app to help teens and young adults quit vaping. Visit DOH.WA.GOV/QUIT and follow the registration prompts to access an activation code and password.
  • Washington State Tobacco Quitline: Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit Quit Now to talk with a quit coach.

4. Talk with teens and young adults about not using any tobacco or marijuana products.

  • For help navigating these conversations, visit www.StartTalkingNow.org (available in English, Khmer, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese).
  • And if you’re looking for information that teens can view, please direct them to the youth-focused www.YouCanWA.org.