TAYLORSVILLE (ABC4 News) – Vaping, which many consider a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, may not be so safe after all.
The Utah Department of Health is currently investigating 21 reported cases of lung illnesses related to vaping.
“What we’re seeing is what we’ve been calling severe lung disease but it’s pneumonitis,” UDOH epidemiologist Keegan McCaffrey said Tuesday. “It’s swelling. It’s inflammation of the lungs and many of our cases have been hospitalized or even put on ventilators.”
According to a GoFundMe page, a Utah man named Sean Bills is one of the cases. His wife claims he’s in a coma because of a vaping-caused lung illness.
Steve Bredeson is a smoker who says he never uses vaping devices.
“I smoke cigarettes and I know that’s not good for me,” Bredeson told ABC4 News. “But there’s a lot more information on tobacco than there is on this vape stuff.”
Talon Befus used a brand of e-cigarette called Juul for a year and says he experienced respiratory symptoms.
“Just kind of like a clogged throat, clogged sinuses. You’d get super stuffy,” Befus told ABC4 News. “Even after just hitting one and going and sitting on the couch sometimes you’ll get a headache or you just don’t feel the best. You feel like you don’t have energy.”
He says he quit after seeing news reports of the nearly 200 illnesses nationwide including a death in Illinois. McCaffery relayed a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General.
“Teenagers, young adults, people who do not vape should not start vaping,” McCaffery said. “Because we do not know what’s in these products or the long term health consequences of them.”
State lawmakers and county health officials are doing their best to keep these products out of the hands of children. It is currently illegal to sell or distribute vaping products to anyone under the age of 19 and that age goes up to 20 next year and 21 in 2021.