Monterey County Public Health Urges Everyone to Refrain from Vaping
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory on September 24 regarding vaping related lung illness. Monterey County Public Health urges everyone to take this message seriously. Refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current investigations are complete. CDPH, along with other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), local health departments, and healthcare providers are working to identify what is in the vape materials that is making people sick.
As of September 24, 2019, CDPH received reports that 90 people in California who have a history of vaping were hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, and two people have died. Across the U.S., there are more than 500 reports of lung damage associated with vaping across 38 states and 1 U.S. territory, and more reports are coming in nearly every day.
The long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, but these short-term effects are alarming. We are learning from this investigation that lung damage can happen very suddenly to people who vape. This includes people who have not been vaping for a long time, and young, healthy people who do not have lung disease or other health problems. This is different from most other health issues caused by vaping and smoking, which happen over a long period of time and can be worse in people who have other medical conditions. Additionally, of those hospitalized, most do not have a recent history of smoking regular cigarettes, suggesting these lung issues are exclusively related to vaping.
Almost all people with lung damage from vaping say they vaped or “dabbed” (vaping cannabis oils, extracts or concentrates) the cannabis products THC and CBD in cartridges, waxes, oils, and other forms. While some people report vaping only nicotine, many people report vaping a combination of both nicotine and cannabis products. The investigation is still in process, and the one thing that people with the lung illnesses have in common is a history of vaping.
Although CDPH regulates manufacturers of cannabis vaping products to ensure they are as safe as possible for those who choose to vape, health officials warn that all individuals put themselves at risk any time they inhale a foreign substance into their lungs. The risk of vaping for any individual may include serious illness and death. CDC continues to warn that any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe and the use of cannabis and tobacco products remains especially unsafe for youth, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
What Monterey County Health Department Is Doing About Vaping Illnesses
Monterey County Public Health is collaborating with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department on tobacco retail licensing efforts. These include; outreach and education efforts within the store environment, young adult tobacco purchase surveys to ensure tobacco products are kept out of the hands of young people (vaping is illegal for those under the age of 21) and checking tobacco related merchandise to identify counterfeit products.
Education efforts include trainings with Monterey County Office of Education, Environmental Health, local law enforcement, youth serving agencies and college peer groups on emerging tobacco products (vaping, tobacco and cannabis). Social media campaigns such as Cannabis Decoded have been launched to educate on the dangers of cannabis use for youth, and for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Monterey County Public Health is collaborating with Sun Street Centers to provide cannabis education in the schools focused on drugged driving and community forums for parents.
Recommendations for the Public
The Monterey County Health Officer recommends Monterey County residents quit vaping altogether, no matter the substance or source. The best thing to do to protect your health is to not vape. If you have vaped in the past few months and are having problems with breathing or other symptoms, seek medical care immediately. Tell your health care provider about your history of vaping. If you decide to stop vaping, do not replace vaping with smoking combustible cigarettes. Instead, ask your doctor for FDA- approved quitting treatments.
Recommendations for Medical Providers
Report suspect cases to the Monterey County Public Health Communicable Disease Unit:
- During normal business hours’ call (831) 755-4521 or fax (831) 775-8076.
- After business hours’ call (831) 755-5100 and ask for the Hazardous Materials Team, who will connect you with the on-call Health Officer.
For Additional Information
Please contact the Monterey County Health Department’s Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Division at (831) 755‑4607 for additional information about the health risks of vaping.
More information about the Center for Disease Control's investigation is available here