Onondaga County Officials Urge Residents to Avoid E-Cigarettes; Cause of Illnesses Unknown

Sep 19, 2019

E-cigarette flavors like these will be banned in New York State staring Oct. 4.
Credit Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

Onondaga County health officials are joining the state department of health in urging residents to stop using e-cigarettes due to the increase vaping-related illnesses.  At least 74 people have fallen ill statewide, including seven in Onondaga County.  Program Coordinator for the Tobacco-free Network of CNY Karyn Johnson says it’s not clear yet what’s causing symptoms such as coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and more…

"We don't have a lot research especially as far as long term effects research. We don't know what is causing some of the illness, but the fact that we don't a lot of the consequences of this product is scary to us." 

Health officials urge anyone using vape products and experiences symptoms should contact their doctor.  They also say adults who don’t use tobacco shouldn’t start using e-cigarettes.  Johnson says those who are trying to quit smoking should use evidence-based treatments.

This is not an approved cessation product. There has been no research that shows that this actually helps people to quit smoking. In most cases a lot of them are using both products are the same time."

Johnson feels history is repeating itself 55 years after the U-S Surgeon General’s warning about traditional cigarettes…

"When cigarettes first came out, no one knew there was a cause for concern.  Then more research and data came out, and now we know they are a leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.  I have a feeling that's where we're going with e-cigarattes."

The Cuomo administration this week banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes beginning October 4th, mainly aimed at preventing youth from getting hooked.  Johnson says there’s still a concern some might buy the products online or on the black market, posing an increased risk.  She hopes the federal government will act soon to close those loopholes and add begin regulating e-cigarettes.