Delaware Division of Public Health recommends against all vaping in update Oct. 3.
The Division of Public Health strongly recommended dropping e-cigarette products, or vapes, in a morning teleconference Oct. 3.
Delaware now has 11 cases of probable or confirmed lung injuries associated with vaping, and one involved a person who has died, reported Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of DPH.
They died in August after a lengthy hospitalization, Rattay said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual’s family. This death is a harsh reminder that these illnesses are serious and life-threatening,” she said.
No specific product or device has been identified as a cause of the lung injuries. Ten of the 11 patients reported using products with THC, the chemical that creates the high in marijuana.
One patient reported vaping medical marijuana.
The state “strongly encourages people to not use e-cigarette products, especially those containing THC, whether [they’re] legal or illegal,” Rattay said. The state has asked medical marijuana dispensaries, known as compassion centers, to post signs warning cardholders of the risks of vaping, she said.
However, Rattay said DPH could not share any specific information about the medical marijuana product that was used in the reported case.
She recommended anyone who uses vaping as medical treatment should contact their healthcare provider to consider safer options.
These findings in Delaware follow a national trend. As of Sept. 27, 46 states have reported a total of 805 cases of lung injury related to vaping.
Rattay said they recognize that many people turn to e-cigarettes to quit smoking tobacco products. But, she said the Food and Drug Administration does not approve of e-cigarettes as a way to quit.
“While many people believe e-cigarettes are safe and don’t contain nicotine, that is not true,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control began their investigation into lung diseases connected with vaping Aug. 1, working closely with the FDA, states and public health partners and clinicians.
The state started sending health advisory notices from the CDC to healthcare providers Aug. 20, asking them to report suspected cases.
Eight were reported in New Castle County, two in Kent and one in Sussex. The average age of the eight men and three women was 29 years old.
The Department of Health and Social Services said the best way to avoid severe lung injury is to abstain.
“The illnesses we are seeing in Delaware and across the nation are severe and extremely concerning, and too many Delawareans are suffering,” said Dr. Kara Walker, DHSS Secretary and a practicing physician.
People who use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms, some of which DPH identified as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.
Some states, like New York and Michigan, have placed temporary bans on flavored vaping, while Massachusetts recently became the first state to ban all vaping products for four months.
So, what’s in store for Delaware? Because no one knows if there is a specific product or device causing the illnesses, Rattay said there are still too many unknowns to suggest policy changes.
“It’s very important that policy decisions be data driven and based on the best available evidence,” Rattay said.
Still, she said she is concerned that the flavoring of e-cigarettes is drawing many youth to vaping products.
“At this time, all policy options are on the table,” she said.