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County Health Officials Issue Advisory On Vaping Use

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County health officials are urging all residents to stop using vape products in light of advisories issued by New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and warnings from the CDC.

The advisory Friday by Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County director of Health and Human Services, is until the investigation into the definitive cause of reported vaping-associated illnesses nationwide is concluded.

According to the New York State Department of Health, as of Sept. 5, the state has received 34 reports from physicians of severe pulmonary illness among patients ranging from 15 to 46 years of age who were using at least one cannabis-containing vape product before they became ill. However, all patients reported recent use of various vape products.

“Due to the nationwide trend of severe pulmonary (lung) disease associated with e-cigarette products, I am urging county residents to stop using vape/e-cigarette products,” Schuyler said. “In addition to this emerging trend of pulmonary disease, we know that these products represent a real health risk to young people as the nicotine in these products is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Until more information is available locally, we will continue to monitor findings issued by Wadsworth, New York state’s public health laboratory, and further advisories issued by the NYSDOH and the CDC.”

According to NYSDOH, laboratory test results showed very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed by the Wadsworth Center as part of this investigation. At least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing. Vitamin E acetate is not an approved additive for New York State Medical Marijuana Program-authorized vape products and was not seen in the nicotine-based products that were tested.

As a result, vitamin E acetate is now a key focus of the NYSDOH investigation of potential causes of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses. Vitamin E acetate is a commonly available nutritional supplement that is not known to cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, the NYSDOH continues to investigate its health effects when inhaled because its oil-like properties could be associated with the observed symptoms.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation, the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following guidance per the CDC:

¯ youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products;

¯ women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products;

¯ adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products;

¯ do not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer;

¯ adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications. If you need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, contact your medical provider or call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com. The Quitline also provides free starter kits of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to eligible New Yorkers. Services are free and confidential.

Data from the 2019 Chautauqua County Partnership For Success Student Survey (grades 8, 10 and 12) shows that in the past 30 days (from the administration of the survey):

¯ 27.8% of combined students used an E-cig or a vaping device;

¯ 45.4% of students believed there was slight or no harmful risk involved with using an E-cig or vaping device;

¯ 13.12% of students used marijuana with a vaping device;

¯ 48.9% of students believed there was slight or no harmful risk involved with using marijuana with a vaping device.

The county, in collaboration with Tobacco Free Chautauqua Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties, Roswell Park, Erie 2 BOCES, and Prevention Works, have worked with local school districts in recent years to educate parents, teachers, and students on the risks of e-cigarette use and the suggested course of disciplinary protocol.

The discipline protocol suggestion is the culmination of discussions during forums, collaborative discussions, and research. According to the CDC, “The most effective approaches to helping youth quit tobacco use are through counseling and education.”

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