EVALI: newly identified lung disease linked to vaping

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- EVALI is the name the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have given to the dangerous, newly identified lung disease linked to vaping.

EVALI stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. 

Three people in Louisiana have now died from complications related to illness caused by vaping, with the third death in Lafayette Parish.

Dr. Tina Stefanski is the Regional Medical Director for the Office of Public Health in Acadiana. She said there has been an alarming increase in the number of young children and adults using e-cigarettes since 2015.

“The lung associated injury is a newer phenomenon as we’ve seen an increase in the use of e-cigarettes so in particular last year, around August 2019, we saw a dramatic increase, and thankfully, we’ve started to see a decrease in individuals who report actual lung injury and are hospitalized as a result of vaping,” said Dr. Stefanski.

Dr. Stefanski said the most common e-cigarettes used by children contain nicotine.

“Nicotine is addictive,” explained Dr. Stefanski. “It’s harmful to the developing brain, and the chemicals that these e-cigarettes use to create the vapor or the smoke that you see is not water, it’s chemicals.”

Tim Champagne, the owner of Troposphere Vapors in both Lafayette and Scott, is trying to set the record straight when it comes to vaping illnesses that are tied to illegal THC vaping cartridges in Louisiana.

“The part I’m worried about for us with the demonizing of vaping with this illicit THC use which is two different businesses, two different entities. Vaping is the actual device. We vape E-liquids with harm reduction and nicotine, not THC,” said Champagne.

“The suspicion is that most of the cases that we saw over these last several months of EVALI or lung associated illness from using these e-cigarettes is most likely linked or seems to be linked to these THC containing products as a result of this Vitamin E Acetate,” said Dr. Stefanski.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends refraining from the use of all e-cigarette or vaping products to completely avoid a person’s risk of developing EVALI.

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