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Public Health

Posted on: September 19, 2019

City Public Health Officials Warn of Vaping Dangers

As reports of vaping-related illnesses increase, Maine has enacted a law banning vaping on school grounds. On September 19, LD 152 took effect. The statute, “An Act to Prohibit the Possession and Use of Electronic Smoking Devices on School Grounds” comes as students head back to school and on the heels of the seventh death nationwide from lung disease linked to vaping. Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC says the update to Maine law is important because vaping and e-cigarettes pose serious health risks, particularly for kids, teens, and young adults. Maine has previously taken steps to reduce youth and young adult tobacco use by enacting Tobacco 21 in July, 2018, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 21. Several months later, in December, 2018, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping an epidemic among youth and young adults. 

On September 12, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners announced that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) use. Of the 380 cases, all have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping and most have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis). At this time, the specific cause of these illnesses is unknown. The investigation to date has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance that is linked to all cases.

The CDC recommends the following:

  • If you are concerned about these specific health risks, you should refrain from using e-cigarette or vaping products.

  • If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.

  • If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms like those reported in this outbreak you should see a healthcare provider.

  • Regardless of the ongoing investigation:

Symptoms of Severe Lung Disease Reported by Some Patients in This Outbreak:

  • Patients in this investigation have reported symptoms such as:

    • cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain

    • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

    • fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain

  • Some patients have reported that their symptoms developed over a few days, while others have reported that their symptoms developed over several weeks. A lung infection does not appear to be causing the symptoms.

The FDA has created a Consumer Update with additional information to help protect the public.

For more information please email Bridget Rauscher at bnevers@portlandmaine.gov or call (207) 874-8634.