KAILUA-KONA — State health officials on Monday issued a health advisory warning the public to stop vaping, no matter the substance or source, until current nationwide investigations are complete.
The advisory follows the state’s first reported case of lung illness related to the use of vaping products involving a Big Island youth last month and national estimates of more than a thousand reported cases of lung illness and 18 deaths associated with vaping and e-cigarettes, according to a Department of Health press release.
“There is serious nationwide concern over vaping, and in Hawaii, our children are especially at risk as we have some of the highest estimated rates of e-cigarette use among our high school and middle school youth,” said Gov. David Ige. “The state is placing a high priority on investigating lung illnesses related to vaping and our Department of Health will immediately ban any products that are identified as the source of a vaping related outbreak. We will also introduce legislation to regulate these products and further restrict their access to our youth.”
The department said about 26% of high school and 16% of middle school students in Hawaii currently smoke e-cigarettes. The estimated national average for high school youth is 13%.
“Vaping is not safe, and everyone is advised to stop using vaping products until more is known about their association with serious lung disease,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Parents are advised to talk with their children about the dangers of vaping, and physicians are reminded to ask their patients with symptoms of lung illness or injury about their use of e-cigarettes or their history of vaping and report cases to the Department of Health for investigation.”
The department recommended any person who recently used a vaping device is experiencing symptoms including coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever, or abdominal pain, see a health care provider. The public can also call the 24/7 Hawaii Poison Hotline at (800) 222-1222.
Until the cause of these vaping associated illnesses is determined, the Department of Health recommends the following:
• Do not use e-cigarettes or vaping devices of any kind.
• If you choose to continue using vaping devices, do not use off-market products. Caution is especially advised regarding the use of off-market THC-containing liquids.
• Pregnant women should not use e-cigarettes and vaping products of any kind at any time during pregnancy.
• Children and youth should never use e-cigarettes and vaping devices. It is illegal to sell the products to anyone under the age of 21 and illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, use, and possess these products.