California State Health Officials to Public: Stop Vaping Now!

California health officials on Tuesday advised people to stop vaping immediately, joining an increasing number of experts warning about the use of electronic cigarettes, following reports of severe lung illnesses linked to the practice.

For the past several weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been investigating a collection of severe symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath and vomiting, associated with e-cigs. They say they are unsure of the exact cause of the problems, but have also urged people to refrain from vaping.

There have been at least 530 cases of lung injury nationwide as well as seven deaths, one of which was in Los Angeles County. Two-thirds of the cases were in people between the ages of 18 and 35.

So far, no specific devices or chemicals have been linked to the outbreak. Most people who became sick had vaped with THC, some with a mixture of THC and nicotine and a smaller number with only nicotine.

Hundreds of people have been hospitalized across the nation with serious lung conditions that are suspected to be linked to vaping, both of nicotine and THC. In California, there have been two deaths due to the illnesses as well as 90 people who have been hospitalized.

“We are seeing something that we have not seen before,” said Dr. Charity Dean, California’s acting public health officer, in a statement. “There are numerous unknown factors at this time, and due to the uncertainty of the exact cause, it is our recommendation that consumers refrain from vaping until the investigation has concluded.”

E-cigarettes are loaded with a liquid cartridge — typically containing THC or nicotine — that when heated turns into a vapor that the user then inhales. The recent outbreak, however, suggests that something in the liquid, such as oil or another substance mixed in, has been also entering people’s lungs and causing damage.

“People are getting sick and some are dying as a result of vaping,” Governor Newsom said in a statement Tuesday. “Californians are encouraged to stop vaping until health officials fully understand what’s causing this public health crisis.”