EDITORIAL: Consider giving up vaping

As health risks come into focus, vapers should rethink taking up the habit

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

You wouldn’t dive into a pitch-black cave without taking a peek with a flashlight first.

You wouldn’t jump out of a plane without making sure the parachute was in working order.

Taking risks without having enough information is dangerous.

So with medical professionals and government regulators desperately scrambling to determine what’s suddenly causing hundreds of otherwise healthy people who engage in vaping to die or to rapidly develop life-threatening medical conditions, do you really want to risk your health without at least learning more about the cause?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported 450 cases of a mysterious vaping-related illness that affects the lungs of young people (teens and early 20s) and otherwise healthy individuals.

At least three people have died so far, and more deaths are under investigation. New York’s health commissioner reported Monday that 41 people in our state have been hospitalized with similar illnesses.

Whether you vape for pleasure or to help ease your way off cigarettes, now might be a good time to grab that metaphorical flashlight and consider whether this is a habit you want to continue.

The federal government has only been regulating vaping products for the past three years. Now that their use has become common, some medical issues are starting to become apparent.

The most recent health problems largely appear to affect people who vape THC, the chemical in marijuana that produces the high. Others have been sickened by vaping a chemical containing THC and vitamin E acetate.

But those cases don’t account for all of the illnesses that have been reported, meaning either that there are multiple sources of the illnesses or that officials haven’t identified the actual culprit yet.

Early symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, coughing and extreme shortness of breath. Anyone who has shortness of breath lasting more than a few hours or who becomes severe should seek medical attention quickly, officials say. Some forms of the illness appear similar to pneumonia.

While vaping has been deemed safer than smoking tobacco, and therefore encouraged as an effective way to stop smoking, it’s becoming clear that vaping does not come without its own risks.

Obviously, we’re not going to dispense medical advice here. 

But we will reiterate the point federal and state officials are making, which is that vaping carries risks.

And until the source or sources of the most recent illnesses are identified, people should consider stopping or reducing their use of vaping products.

Fear of the unknown has stopped many of us from risking our lives before.

Maybe this is one of those times.

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