(Pitt County) — In July 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began investigating reports of patients admitted to the hospital for severe lung damage, all of which reported using e-cigarettes. Although symptoms appear similar to pneumonia, no infectious diseases have been identified; therefore, the lung illness is likely associated with exposure to chemicals. As of September 10, 2019, over 450 cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products have been reported to the CDC from 33 states. In North Carolina, 23 cases have been reported. The severity of the disease ranges from patient to patient. Unfortunately, six deaths have been reported in the United States from the use of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are battery–powered devices that deliver nicotine and other additives to the user in the form of an aerosol, which is commonly referred to as “vapor.” The use of the term vapor has led consumers to feel that it is safe to inhale, when in actuality, it is not safe. E-cigarette vapor contains harmful chemical compounds such as nicotine, heavy metals, cancer-causing agents, volatile organic compounds, and Diacetyl, which has been linked to “Popcorn Lungs.” Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and can also harm brain development in youth, which continues to happen until about the age of 25 years. This is alarming, especially since in 2018, 20.8% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.
Pitt County’s Health Director, Dr. John Silvernail encourages individuals to avoid using vaping products and e-cigarettes due to their potential link to severe health problems. The Pitt County Health Department has issued an urgent plea for residents to avoid using these dangerous products and to properly dispose of these electronic devices, as they should not be thrown away in the trash. To aid in proper disposal, the Pitt County Health Department will provide a Drop Box at the Pitt County Government booth displayed in the exhibit area at the 100th Annual Pitt County Agricultural Fair on Tuesday, September 17th from 4:00pm until 9:00pm. Individuals can take their e-cigarettes to this Drop Box for proper disposal and learn more about the dangers of vaping and tips for quitting. The first 200 people to turn in their e-cigarettes will receive a small gift.