Karen Derusha

PLATTSBURGH — Vaping is not all what it is cracked up to be, and it may crack youths up, and not in a good way.

“Recently over the last few months, there have been cases of what is being now termed as vaping-associated pulmonary illness,” Karen Derusha, Clinton County Health Department supervising public health educator, said.

“What is happening is people are developing serious pulmonary illness and the link has been made to vaping. All of them have reported a history of vaping.”


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated 450 possible vaping-associated pulmonary illness, which has resulted in three deaths, across the nation.

The New York State Department of Health released a statement about its ongoing investigation into 34 cases statewide, which was distributed in a Clinton County Health Department release on Sept. 6.

The full report can be viewed at:https://tinyurl.com/y69hkkp4

Cases of pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping continue to rise across New York State and the country, according to New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

“We urge the public to be vigilant about any vaping products that they or any family members may be using and to immediately contact their health care provider if they develop any unusual symptoms,” Zucker said in a release.

“In general, vaping of unknown substances is dangerous, and we continue to explore all options to combat this public health issue.”

The department reports severe pulmonary illness among patients 15 to 46 years of age.

All patients were using at least one cannabis-containing vape product before they became ill.

All patients reported recent use of various vape products.

The department's investigation has uncovered high levels of Vitamin E acetate in nearly all the cannabis-containing samples analyzed, according to the report.

At least one Vitamin E acetate containing product has been linked to each patient who submitted a product for testing in New York state.

The CDC investigation, conducted with the Food and Drug Administration has not identified a single common substance.


“The whole idea of electronic devices to deliver nicotine has been on the radar of the people in the tobacco-control community for a long time because we knew the tobacco industry and others were working on these type of products,” Derusha said.

“It's been within the last few years now that we've really seen these products come to the market in a very full way. What we're seeing now is an explosion of youth using vaping products.”

Right now, the legal age to purchase nicotine products is 18.

The age requirement will increase to 21 in November due to state legislation.

Like traditional tobacco products, youths gain access to vaping products through friends, family, internet or someone purchases it for them.

“Vaping products when they first were becoming popular, they were looked as a potential product to help people with tobacco cessation,” Derusha said.

“They are viewed, and still sometimes are viewed, as a less harmful product.”


The reality is vaping products seem to have their own health harms.

“One of the biggest concerns that we've had up to this point had been the addiction component,” Derusha said.

“Most of them would include nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive. So, we have young people who are starting to vape feeling like it's a somewhat safer thing to do than smoking and becoming addicted to nicotine, which means they will continue to vape or use traditional tobacco products.”

The Champlain Valley Center has a Reality Check grant.

“The grant is called Advancing Tobacco Free Communities and tucked within that is the Reality Check program that focuses on youth,” Derusha said.

“The coordinator for Reality Check has been going at the schools and talking about vaping.”

The New York State Department of Health, CDC, FDA and other state health departments around the country are investigating vaping-associated pulmonary illness cases.

“This is a very changing environment,” Derusha said.

For more information, contact (518) 565-4840.

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