As the number of people with reported respiratory ailments linked to vaping rises, Wyoming’s health officials are warning residents that vaping is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
“Vaping is not safe for adolescents, for young adults, for pregnant women or for anybody who is not a current smoker,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer and epidemiologist.
National reports indicate more than 1,100 people are suffering from lung illnesses related to vaping, with 23 deaths reported. In Wyoming, Harrist said two cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported.
Officials are unsure what is causing people to become sick, Harrist said.
“What we’re seeing now is an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease related to vaping,” she said. “And we’re still trying to figure out what the specific substance or device is that is causing this illness.”
Most of the people reporting the illness appear to be young adults, Harrist said.
“This certainly does seem to be something new and something different,” she said. “Because these are young, healthy people being admitted to the hospital with respiratory problems and sometimes even respiratory failure.”
Cheyenne resident Kathleen Jaure said she began vaping last year to stop smoking cigarettes. She theorized that the rise in lung ailments may be related to the rise in use of the electronic smoking devices.
“Maybe the potency is going up, that makes it more problematic,” she said. “Also, more people are doing it and so you’re going to see problems. And usually with something, it doesn’t happen overnight that there’s a problem. So I think as it goes on, then we’re starting to recognize the effects of vaping.”
Health officials report that lung ailments related to vaping display symptoms similar to those seen with the flu or pneumonia.