Due to the growing number of people throughout the country who have been hospitalized with severe pulmonary disease associated with using e-cigarette products, the Louisiana Department of Health is asking physicians and other healthcare providers to report these suspect cases to state health officials.

The Department is also advising physicians to ask all of their patients who report using e-cigarettes within the past 90 days about signs and symptoms of pulmonary illness.

9 cases reported in Louisiana

Since the beginning of the year, 215 possible cases of severe side effects linked with e-cigarettes have been reported in 25 states and one has died. 

In Louisiana over the past two weeks, nine cases of pulmonary illness have been reported to health officials. These cases have been reported from throughout the state with the ages ranging from 20-33. There are no deaths in Louisiana associated with this illness.

In a statewide alert to healthcare providers, the Department of Health wrote: E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. Others may contain marijuana or other substances. The devices may be referred to as e-cigs, vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens, mods, tanks or electronic nicotine delivery systems.

E-cigarettes can contain harmful or potentially harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals (e.g., lead), volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing chemicals.

Those who do not currently use other tobacco products should not use e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes containing nicotine have the potential to help some individual smokers reduce their tobacco use, the federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved e-cigarettes as a quit aid and no conclusive data exists on whether e-cigarettes are effective for quitting tobacco use.

Recommendations for the public

  • If you are concerned about the health risks associated with e-cigarettes, consider discontinuing the products.
  • E-cigarette products should not be bought off the street and should not be modified or have substances not intended for use by the manufacturer added.
  • Youth, young adults and pregnant women, as well as adults who do not currently use tobacco products, should not use e-cigarettes.
  • Monitor for symptoms of severe side effects if you do use e-cigarettes. If you do develop symptoms, seek medical attention. These symptoms include:
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
  • Additionally, concerns about the harmful effects from e-cigarettes can be directed to your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Adult smokers who are looking to quit smoking can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.quitwithusla.org for information on FDA-approved counseling and medications.