MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has confirmed the state’s first death from a vaping-associated injury. The deceased is an adult male in east Alabama.
The death comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues its investigation of a multistate outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping. The CDC is investigating more than 805 lung injury cases in 46 states and 1 U.S. territory. Twelve deaths have now been confirmed in a total of 10 states (Alabama is not included in this number).
Those seeking medical attention due to potential vaping-associated injury should immediately inform health care providers they used a vaping/e-cigarette product (i.e., vape pens, liquids, refill pods and cartridges). Patients have experienced symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath and fatigue, with symptoms growing worse over a period of days or weeks before admission to the hospital. Other symptoms may include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Most of the cases are among adolescents and young adults.
The ADPH is asking persons who sought medical care for a potential vaping-related injury to contact Mr. Durham if they have any vaping/e-cigarette products that can be obtained for testing purposes.
The ADPH recommends that all consumers consider refraining from the use of e-cigarettes and vape products until national and state investigations into vaping-related deaths and illnesses are complete. Two-thirds of the cases being investigated by the CDC involve patients who are 18 – 34 years old. As of Oct. 1, there were 19 Alabama residents under investigation. Of the 19 reports, four cases have been identified and nine other reports are still under investigation in Alabama; three have been identified as probable cases; one confirmed case (the deceased), of lung disease associated with vaping. National counts will be updated Thursday.
Those who choose to continue the use of e-cigarettes and vape products should not buy these products off the street or from unregulated sources. Consumers should avoid modifying or adding any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. Consumers with nicotine addiction who have used e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking should not return to the use of conventional cigarettes.
ADPH has requested that health care providers report any cases of suspected serious respiratory illness they treat among patients who use electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “The use of any tobacco product is unsafe. While this current outbreak is being investigated, the safest option is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vape product. Furthermore, there is no situation in which these devices should be used by pregnant women or youths.”
Alabama law now prohibits the sale or transfer of vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors. Free help is available for individuals who are ready to kick the tobacco habit at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or quitnowalabama.com.
The Quitline provides individualized coaching to help any type of smoker or tobacco user, including e-cigarettes and vape, to quit. In addition, the Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to those medically eligible and enrolled in the program. Quitline coaching services are available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight.
For additional information on electronic cigarettes and their health effects, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm. For more information on quitting tobacco, please visit ADPH Tobacco Prevention and Control at alabamapublichealth.gov/tobacco.