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Risks associated with vaping prompts statewide health advisory

Health care providers across New York are being advised to remain alert for potential cases of pulmonary disease in people using vaping products.

A statewide health advisory was issued to alert providers of the “emerging health threat” and outlined symptoms they should be be aware of in patients, according to the New York State Department of Health.

The health department is investigating 11 reported cases of severe pulmonary disease in people using vaping products, including one from Long Island. Patients have ranged from 18-49 years old.

“While many people consider vaping to be a less dangerous alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is not risk free,” Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. “These latest reports of pulmonary disease in people using vaping products in New York and other states are proof that more study is needed on the long-term health effects of these products.”

The health department is investigating the reported vape products that have been used as well as where they were obtained from and the method of delivery and use. Many cases have reported the use of products containing cannabis, as well as other nicotine products, according to the advisory.

Anyone who is using vaping products and has concerning respiratory symptoms should stop using the product and consult a healthcare provider.

The health department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the investigation. While no deaths have been reported, some patients have had “progressive respiratory compromise requiring endotracheal intubation” to assist with breathing.

Suffolk County in January announced a vaping prevention program to be piloted in Suffolk schools due to the “alarming rise” in teenagers using the products. The program is called Vape Out. The county this year also passed legislation that would increase fines for those who sell tobacco products to minors.

E-cigarette use among teenagers is considered a health epidemic by the Food and Drug Administration. According to the CDC National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use skyrocketed between 2017 and 2018. The survey found that more than 3.6 million high school and middle school students are currently using e-cigarettes.

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