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Side Effects of Vaping Linked to Respiratory Disease in First Long-Term Study

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A new study warns that vaping side effects may include a risk of long-term respiratory disease, which can develop fairly quickly, leading to asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems.

In the first long-term study of its kind, which was published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers indicate vaping increased the risk of respiratory diseases by 30%, and when combined with cigarette smoking or other forms of combustible tobacco use, vaping increased those risks by a factor of three.

Researchers with the Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco conducted a longitudinal analysis using data collected in 2013-2016 and analyzed in 2018-2019 from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Waves 1, 2, and 3.

The study looks at e-cigarette users and smokers in the first wave of the assessment who did not report respiratory disease, then looked to see if they developed respiratory diseases in the following waves. Researchers say it is the first long-term study of vaping health effects.

According to the findings, there was a 31% increased risk of respiratory diseases among e-cigarette users who had stopped vaping, and a 29% increased risk among those who still vaped. Those who currently used combustible tobacco were two and a half times more likely to have respiratory diseases as non-smokers, and when the two practices were combined, which was often, they were more than three times likely to develop breathing ailments, which included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

“Use of e-cigarettes is an independent risk factor for respiratory disease in addition to combustible tobacco smoking,” the researchers concluded. “Dual use, the most common use pattern, is riskier than using either product alone.”

Vaping Health Problems

The findings come amid increased concerns about the widespread popularity of vaping and health problems that may result, including respiratory ailments identified in previous studies and the under-appreciated risk of nicotine addiction.

Federal and state health agencies nationwide are currently tracking an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries which have sickened more than 2,400 people and resulted in at least 50 deaths. However, those appear to be linked to black market products which include THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

An ongoing investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates the introduction of vitamin E oils into THC vaping products has aligned with the recent influx of vaping injuries and deaths across the nation. In 2018, the agency seized a limited number THC liquid products and did not identify any ingredients of vitamin E. However, the portion of THC liquids seized by the CDC thus far in 2019 has verified the vitamins presence in each illness case.

Lung illness from vaping was first reported by health officials in Illinois and Wisconsin in early August, after several cases of severe lung injury were identified, where e-cigarettes were the only common factor. However, since then, health officials nationwide have either identified similar cases, or realized they had treated similar cases without knowing about the e-cigarette connection.

In recent months, even beyond the lung injuries, there has been increased scrutiny of e-cigarettes, which have become the most popular form of nicotine among teens and young adults. In addition to the risk of e-cigarette respiratory illnesses, there is also now a new generation of teens addicted to JUUL, which contains high levels of nicotine and was aggressively marketed to individuals who were not prior cigarette smokers.

A growing number of JUUL vaping lawsuits are now being pursued against the manufacturers, alleging that the products were illegally marketed to kids while failing to disclose that each of the e-cigarette pods contain more nicotine than a pack of tobacco cigarettes.

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