Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 12:00 AM
Students at Guntersville Middle School pepper a doctor with questions about e-cigarettes
Doctors don’t know all the damages caused by e-cigarettes because the devices haven’t been around long enough to study the long term effects. It’s clear, though, that adults aren’t the only ones curious about the dangers of vaping. Guntersville Middle School students peppered a pulmonologist with questions during a vaping seminar that capped off Red Ribbon Week. One youngster wanted to know the most serious effects of vaping. Using e-cigarettes long term is believed to lead to cancer, stroke and death, they learned. “We think vaping causes the same things as traditional cigarettes,” said Dr. Christopher Manganaris of Pulmonary and Sleep Associates of Marshall County. “They’ve just not been around long enough to know.”
Another student asked which is worse, cigarettes or vaping. The answer? It’s hard to say. “Vaping doesn’t have second-hand smoke,” Dr. Manganaris explained. “You’re only hurting yourself.”
That led to another question. “Can you die from second-hand smoke?”
“Yes,” the doctor answered. ““If you are exposed to enough second hand smoke long enough, it can cause death.” The Food and Drug Administration only started regulating e-cigarettes three years ago. The industry – which is a youngster itself - is about 15 years old. It began as a way to help adults break the cigarette habit but has boomed in popularity among teens. More than one in four high school students in the U.S. use e-cigarettes and 4.9 percent of middle school students—or 570,000 kids—are current e-cigarette users, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
As if that weren’t alarming enough, as of October 29, 2019, 1,888 cases of vaping-associated lung injury have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 49 states (all except Alaska), the District of Columbia and one U.S. territory. Thirty-seven deaths have been confirmed in 24 states. THC was reported present in most of the samples tested by the FDA, and most patients reported a history of using THC-containing products.
Locally, Dr. Manganaris told students he treated two cases of severe pneumonia cases in e-cigarette users. One was hospitalized for two weeks and had to use a ventilator to breathe. The other came to his clinic needing repeated x-rays and supplemental oxygen. “Both were regular vapers and it was not until they quit smoking that they got better,” he said.