Chatham County health experts monitoring vaping illnesses

Chatham County health experts monitoring vaping illnesses

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Lung illnesses from vaping have the Georgia Coastal Health District concerned for the public’s safety.

They say they have seen one vaping-related injury case, which was in Camden County.

“In the beginning, when people were starting to use vaping devices, we were saying, ‘we don’t know anything about the long-term effects,’ but this could be the beginning of what the long-term effects look like, but we’re not sure,” Cristina Gibson said.

Gibson is the director of Chronic Disease Prevention for the Coastal Health District. She says they’re waiting on the results of the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation into the cases of lung injuries to give them more conclusive information about what exactly is leading to people being hospitalized.

“We’re also advising people to be very cautious about the use of vaping devices. We’ve had that message for a very long time, especially because of the dangers of nicotine levels that are in these devices. For us, that’s one of our main concerns with that some of these vaping devices have an inordinate amount of nicotine," Gibson said.

While they don’t currently have a vaping cessation program, the Coastal Health District does offer free Fresh Start classes that are smoking cessation sessions designed for the combustible cigarette smoker who wants to quit.

The nonprofit organization "Georgia Smoke-Free Association’ posted a response at the end of last month to vaping-related illnesses, saying in part that the media is failing to report that these cases are caused by street-bought THC cartridges. When purchased illegally, there is no way to know what is contained within the cartridge, or how it may have been cut.

Vape shop managers and workers WTOC spoke to Tuesday in Savannah echoed that sentiment, saying that they vet the products they put on their shelves.

Toward the tail end of their online statement, the GSFA says that they’re “committed to Tobacco Harm Reduction. This process includes weeding out unsafe and non-compliant products.” They recommend seeking out GSFA Member vendors for your vaping needs.

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