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Lung illnesses raise vaping concerns

Man using an e-cigarette
Photo: Lisa Ducret/picture alliance via Getty Images

Most of vaping's negative headlines have been about the rise in teen vaping, but the recent lung illnesses around the country have raised broader questions about its health impact, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The rationale for e-cigarettes is that they're a healthier alternative to cigarettes. But while the health consequences of smoking cigarettes are well-documented, we don't yet know the long-term effect of vaporizing ingredients and then inhaling them.

  • We do know, however, that vaping gone awry can be problematic — for example, if oil droplets get inhaled or if toxic substances are vaped.
  • "Inhaling oil into your lungs is extremely dangerous behavior that could result in death," Thomas Eissenberg, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, told NYT. "That is probably the biggest message we can get out of this."
  • And the rise of vaping coincides with the spreading legalization of marijuana, which can also be vaped.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Friday to teenagers and other consumers, cautioning them against buying bootlegged and street cannabis or e-cigarette products in the wake of the lung illnesses.

The bottom line: "The outbreaks have created a crisis for two emerging industries — e-cigarettes and legal cannabis — that have pitched themselves as beneficial to public health," NYT writes.

Go deeper... NYT: The Mysterious Vaping Illness That’s ‘Becoming an Epidemic’