The CDC has found that vaping products with nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain, which keeps developing until the person is 25 years old. Research indicates that nicotine affects the parts of the brain that control impulse, learning, attention and mood.1
A developing brain that forms an addiction to nicotine is primed to be addicted to other substances and drugs. In addition to nicotine being an extremely addictive drug, it is also a suspected carcinogen2 and is poisonous to humans. Young people who vape are also more likely to start using regular tobacco cigarettes than those who do not vape.
So far in 2019, e-cigarette liquids and liquid nicotine are the cause of more than 4,700 calls to poison control centers across the country.3 Nicotine exposure can cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Serious exposure to nicotine can cause life-threatening symptoms like seizures, decreased heartrate and decreased blood pressure. E-cigarette liquids and liquid nicotine poisoning can be very serious to pets and can lead to their death.4
E-cigarettes heat up a liquid into an aerosol which the user inhales into their lungs. Nicotine can reach the brain in as little as 10 seconds. Substances other than nicotine found in e-cigarette aerosol could include:
- Acrolein: a harmful chemical used in herbicides, can cause nose and throat irritation
- Diacetyl: a chemical used in vape flavoring and can harm your lungs and linked to “popcorn lung”
- Formaldehyde: known carcinogen and used in embalming
- Metal particles: Nickel, tin and aluminum
Vaping aerosol can affect others around the person vaping. Second-hand aerosol from e-cigarettes contains the same substances as what is inhaled by the user. That is one of the reasons the Tobacco Free USC policy includes e-cigarettes and vaping products.
In recent months there has been a significant increase in e-cigarette, or vaping product, use lung injury (EVALI) reported across the country related to e-cigarette or vaping use. The chemical vitamin E acetate is suspected to be the reason for many of the lung injuries. Vitamin E acetate is used as a thickening agent in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) containing e-cigarette products.
According to the CDC, as of December 3, 2019, 2,291 hospitalized e-cigarette, or vaping product, use lung injury cases have been reported from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories. Sadly, 48 deaths nationwide have been attributed to vaping-related lung injuries. In South Carolina, there are 35 reported cases of EVLI and one death.5 All patients reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping products, many of those containing THC, CBD (cannabinol) or nicotine.
If you have recently vaped, seek medical attention immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Fatigue, fever or abdominal pain
Some patients have reported their symptoms took time to develop over a few days, while others developed over several weeks.
If you need medical attention, make an appointment online at sc.edu/myhealthspace or call 803-777-3175.
- Refrain from using THC-containing e-cigarette or vaping products
- Do not to buy any products, especially those containing THC, from friends, family or online retailers
- Do not add flavoring substances to e-cigarette or vaping products
- Adults who continue to use an e-cigarette, or vaping, product, should carefully monitor themselves for symptoms and see a healthcare provider immediately if they develop symptoms like those reported in this outbreak.
- Irrespective of the ongoing investigation:
o E-cigarette, or vaping, products should never be used by youths, young adults, or women who are pregnant.
o Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette, or vaping, products. There is no safe tobacco product. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk.
o THC use has been associated with a wide range of health effects, particularly with prolonged frequent use. The best way to avoid potentially harmful effects is to not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Persons with marijuana use disorder should seek evidence-based treatment by a health care provider.
- People who have significant impairment or distress from ongoing problematic use of THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products should seek evidence-based behavioral treatment and recovery services for cannabis use disorder.
If you would like to quit and need additional resources, contact Student Wellness and Prevention at 803-777-8283 or 803-777-6518. Students can also contact the Quit for Keeps Program quit- line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.