‘It’s important to stop’: Dane County Public Health urges people to quit vaping immediately

Nina Gregerson has seen vaping evolve over the last few years.

From devices that mimic cigarettes to ones you might not even realize are for vaping unless you see someone using them, she’s seen it all in her role with Public Health Madison and Dane County.

“Now you’re seeing more of these USB-type devices,” the health education coordinator said. They’re discreet, they’re easy to hide and they’re hip.”

She’s also seen a growing concern over what’s inside the devices. That’s why Thursday, the agency said people who vape need to stop immediately, especially if their brains are still developing.

“These drugs do alter a developing brain and can prohibit proper brain development in young people and can make them more susceptible to addictions in the future,” Gregerson said.

In Wisconsin, there have been 34 confirmed cases of hospitalization from severe lung disease or damage tied to vaping. Nationwide, more than 200 cases are being investigated.

New research out Thursday shows the same chemical linked among these cases – Vitamin E oil.

There is a big ol selection at Knuckleheads if you want to vape, but health officials warn you not to. The manager here said it may not be healthy, but he thinks the big, dangerous cases we’re seeing nationwide are due to black market THC cartridges, not these guys #News3Now pic.twitter.com/jnbvgshIj5

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) September 5, 2019

Landon Meske, the general manager of Knuckleheads Tobacco and Vape Club, has his own theory.

“I think they do need to stop vaping,” he said. “They need to stop vaping black-market THC cartridges. That is the stem of this problem.”

He’s seen THC cartridges getting more common in recent years, in a correlation he sees with this uptick in lung disease.

People getting THC cartridges from unknown sources could be inhaling anything, he said, and that should be looked at more than just vaping.

“I’m not saying that vaping is healthy or not,” Meske said. “Obviously you’re putting something into your body, into your lungs, it’s not going to be good for you. I just think there needs to be long-term studies done with this.”

For Gregerson, it doesn’t matter whether it’s seemed safe for years. Right now, she says it’s not.

“It’s important to stop using these products until we know exactly what’s going on,” she said.

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