New Hampshire hasn’t had any reported cases of a serious lung disease among teens and young adults that’s prompted federal agencies to investigate a possible link to nicotine- and marijuana-based vaping products.
But the rate vaping has increased among youth is still a concern, said Patricia Tilley, deputy director for the state’s Division of Public Health Services.
Twenty-four percent of high school students in New Hampshire said they’d used a vaping product in 2017, Tilley said, compared to 13 percent nationwide. For the Monadnock Region, the rate was 18 percent.
“We have a whole new generation of people who are addicted to nicotine that we didn’t have before,” she said.
Vaping refers to inhaling vapor from a device such as an e-cigarette, which frequently involves heating a liquid that can contain nicotine, marijuana or other substances. Those active ingredients are delivered in solvents.
People with the lung disease often experience symptoms gradually, including breathing difficulty, shortness of breath and chest pain before being hospitalized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other symptoms reported were vomiting, diarrhea, fever and fatigue.
In the CDC’s statement Friday, officials advised that “anyone who does use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street (e.g., e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids) and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.”
Since June, at least 215 potential cases, including one death in Illinois, have been reported, the CDC said in a news release Friday.
The sudden onset of these illnesses has led investigators to focus on contaminants, rather than vaping products that have been on the market for several years.
“More information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses,” Friday’s news releases states. “At this time, there does not appear to be one product involved in all of the cases, although THC and cannabinoids use has been reported in many cases.”
Tilley said vape companies target young adults through the various flavorings available.
Federal law bans these flavors in cigarettes — excluding menthol — but not in products such as e-cigarettes, according to the Truth Initiative’s website.
“When you are flavoring something as mango madness or cotton candy, you’re not targeting a lifetime smoker,” Tilley said.