Guam issues warning about vaping

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Guam has seen a staggering rate of youth vaping despite it being illegal to purchase or sell vaping products to anyone under the age of 21 years old.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services is warning the public about the possible harmful effects of vaping and is asking clinicians on island to include as part of their screening the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or electronic vaporizer devices, along with tobacco questions for all patients.

Public Health’s warning comes in the wake of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there have been close to 200 cases of lung injury with a possible link to vaping, with one death already recorded in Illinois.

According to DPHSS, Guam has already had one case at Guam Regional Medical City in 2017, that linked the patient’s diagnosis of diffuse alveolar hemorrhage with his electronic cigarette use.

The case was published in Case Reports in Pulmonology, titled “Diffuse Alveolar Hemorrhage Induced by Vaping, by Dr. Michael Agustin, D. Michele Yamamoto, Felix Cabrera, and Ricardo Eusebio.

Vaping refers to the increasingly popular practice of inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette device, which works by heating a liquid that can contain nicotine, marijuana, or other drugs.

According to DPHSS, the long-term health impacts of vaping are unknown and the liquids used in e-cigarettes are largely unregulated, and they can contain toxic chemicals that can cause lung damage.

DPHSS qualified, however, that it is still unclear whether these vaping lung injury cases are related to vaping nicotine or THC oils.

Nonetheless, clinicians on island are being asked by DPHSS to remain alert for potential cases among persons presenting with severe acute pulmonary symptoms, and ask about their recent history of vaping or using ENDS.

Clinicians who become aware of cases similar to those described in the mainland
are encouraged to report them to Elizabeth Guerrero, Program Coordinator, Department of Public Health and Social Services, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at elizabeth.guerrero@dphss.guam.gov.

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