The Rhode Island Department of Health has flagged two cases from Rhode Island to be included as part of the national investigation into lung injuries associated with vaping products.
Joseph Wendelken, spokesman for the department, said in a press release that both persons experienced the onset of symptoms in early September and were hospitalized. Officials said they were released from the hospital about a week later and are recovering.
One of the victims was between 18 and 24 years old, the other between 25 and 34. The two cases are not considered to be linked, officials said, and the products in question were submitted to the health department's laboratories for coordination and submission of data to the Food and Drug Administration.
"The specific chemical exposures causing lung injury associated with vaping have not yet been identified," Wendelken said. "Given the unknowns about this lung injury cluster, the CDC is reporting the number of cases in each state using the single designation 'confirmed and probable cases.'”
In August, the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a nationwide investigation into non-infectious severe lung injury among patients who had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices. As of Oct. 2, there have been 805 cases reported from 46 states and one U.S. territory, including 12 deaths in 10 states.
All of the patients had a history of vaping, and the latest findings suggest that products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the psychoactive component of marijuana — played a role in the outbreak.
The state health department held a conference call Thursday to provide updates to doctors who are likely to encounter vaping-related injuries.
Director of Heath Nicole Alexander-Scott said, “E-cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. Children, adolescents, and pregnant women should never vape, and any adult who vapes should strongly consider not doing so until we know more. There are safe, effective resources in Rhode Island to help people quit using e-cigarettes. Help is available today at no cost.”
Anyone who wants to quit smoking or vaping can call 1-800-784-8669. Rhode Island teens can text the Tobacco Free Rhode Island promo code HOPE4RI to 88709 to access This Is Quitting, a new text-based service.
— Jason Vallee