On August 30, 2019 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an official Health Advisory for users of e-cigarette products. Patients from several states have experienced respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain. The symptoms appeared in e-cigarette users a few days to several weeks after the use of the e-cigarette. In a couple of states, many of the patients reported a recent inhalation of cannabinoid products (no single substance or e-cigarette product has yet consistently been associated with illness). The CDC has issued recommendations for clinicians, public health officials, and for the public, urging the later to refrain from purchasing any products “off the street”, or from modifying the product as supplied by manufacturers in any way. The CDC also recommends that “…[r]egardless of the ongoing investigation, e-cigarette products should not be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
Since June, at least 215 cases in over 25 states have been reported. Many of these individuals have been hospitalized. The first death related to e-cigarettes was reported on Friday, August 23, 2019. As e-cigarette usage becomes more popular, we need to ensure that we are monitoring the situation and are bringing awareness to as many public health officials as possible. Clinicians and Public Health Officials must ensure that they are generally aware of how e-cigarettes work, and the dangers that they may pose. At a time when our nation is already struggling with a response to the rise of fentanyl-related opioid overdoses, we cannot afford to let another public health crisis swell out of control.