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American Lung Association Responds to Investigation of Vaping-associated Illnesses, Reported Death

(August 23, 2019) - CHICAGO

In response to the reports of pulmonary-related illnesses and one death linked to vaping, the American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D., issued the following statement:

“The current cluster of pulmonary-related illnesses linked to vaping in multiple states is alarming and deeply concerning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with local and state departments of health are conducting an ongoing investigation of the current cluster of pulmonary-related illnesses linked to vaping. While CDC is reporting that there have been 193 cases of such illnesses across 22 states, and one death has been reported in Illinois, no cause has yet been determined. What we do know is that people – including youth – are being treated and in some cases hospitalized with severe lung illnesses caused by vaping. 

“The inhalation of harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease. Developing lungs of teens and young adults may be particularly vulnerable to these harms. This is particularly alarming in light of the dramatic increase in youth use of e-cigarettes - what the Surgeon General refers to as a youth e-cigarette epidemic.

“Any individual who is experiencing respiratory illness or adverse symptoms that they believe could be related to the use of e-cigarettes should contact their healthcare provider. Anyone in respiratory distress should call 911.

“Any unexpected events from any tobacco product, including an e-cigarette, should be reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov. In addition, CDC is sharing with clinicians the Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Clinical Action Message. For information about a specific state, contact that state’s health department. 

“The American Lung Association has been raising the alarm about e-cigarettes and their use for more than a decade, and reiterates the recommendation that the public should not use any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. All tobacco products can harm health. The American Lung Association stands ready to help everyone quit tobacco products, and encourages parents to speak with their kids about the harms of e-cigarette use, before they start.”

The American Lung Association has more information on e-cigarettes at Lung.org/ecigs, and also offers programs for schools to educate kids about the health risks of vaping, as an alternative to suspension and how to quit tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Learn more at Lung.org and call 1-800-LUNGUSA for quit smoking assistance. 

For media interested in speaking with an expert about e-cigarettes, tobacco use and lung health, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628. 

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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