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Severe lung illness related to vaping reaches Weld County

Posted on 09/04/2019
Closeup of man vapingWeld County — The recent rise of sudden and severe lung illnesses associated with the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vaping has not only been documented across the country but also now here in Weld County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 380 cases of severe lung illness nationally, and one of the cases has been identified in a Weld County student. The student is recovering. There are six confirmed vaping-related deaths across six states, with no deaths currently reported in Colorado.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver a liquid containing highly addictive nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals by heating it into an aerosol that is inhaled. E-cigarettes also can contain marijuana or other substances. The severe lung illness is not yet linked to any specific brand or products, but all reported cases affected by severe lung illness have been e-cigarette users, most reporting a history of use of products containing marijuana.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stated Colorado high school students have the highest use rates of vaping in the country. One in four youth have used an e-cigarette in Weld County in the last month, according to the Healthy Kids Colorado survey.

“E-cigarettes are not safe or harmless,” said Mark E. Wallace, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Weld County Health Department. “They should never be used by youth, young adults, or pregnant women; and if you’ve never smoked before, don’t start now with vaping.”

Severe lung illness can be deadly. If a person experiences symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, increased heart rate, chest pain, or other health concerns they should contact their medical provider immediately, especially if they are an e-cigarette user. The Weld County Health Department does not promote e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes or other tobacco products. If you are a smoker and interested in quitting, please call the Colorado Quitline for free quit resources, coaching, and support at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

For more information about how to address e-cigarette use locally or how to talk to youth about vaping, visit the Weld County Health Department’s "Health Hot Topics" tab on the main page.