BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New York State has issued a health advisory about severe lung disease associated with vaping.
WIVB in Buffalo first shared the story on August 21, and it generated a lot of debate, so the following night, we took some of the debated statements to a Roswell Park doctor to help separate fact from fiction.
Dr. Andrew Hyland is Chair of the Department of Health Behavior. He also helps run the tobacco program and is invested in both cigarette and vaping research.
FACT OR FICTION: Vaping saves lives
Dr. Hyland says maybe. The issue is a two-sided coin. It might save the 60-year-old who couldn’t quit smoking throughout her whole life any other way until vaping, but it’s not good for the teenager who decided to start vaping.
“Some cigarette smokers vaping actually is a reason not to quit smoking, It’s like ‘oh, I’m vaping, I’ve reduced my cigarette smoking, it’s okay not to quit cigarettes,’ and that’s actually problematic,” Hyland saud. “But there are a lot of other people who are vaping, and they’ve quit completely. I hear story after story after story.”
FACT OR FICTION: Vaping is safe
Dr. Hyland says not quite.
“I would say safer [than cigarettes], certainly, but there are toxins that are in there. There’s some formaldehyde, some other toxins that are there,” he said. “Certainly, I’m not ready to go out on ‘safe,’ that’s a pretty aggressive statement to me.”
Hyland says vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, but that doesn’t make it safe.
On Wednesday, Erie County’s Health Commissioner said vape products are not FDA regulated, but pro-vapers say they are. Once again, Dr. Hyland says yes and no. Vape products are regulated in terms of their package labeling and distribution, but they are not regulated for what’s in them.
“There’s actually warning labels on them about the addictiveness of nicotine, but there’s a lot that’s not yet done. They’re not regulated in quite the same way that cigarettes are,” Hyland said.
WHAT’S CAUSING SEVERE PULMONARY DISEASE?
That’s what the New York State Department of Health and the CDC are investigating and why the agencies are asking healthcare providers to get detailed vaping histories of diagnosed patients and even samples of the products they used.
Dr. Hyland says although it’s not certain, some early evidence suggests some of the cases may have used of black market cannabis, not commercial products.
“It suggests that this may be more of, basically, a tainted cannabis oil that people are using their tanks and their mods and their e-vapor devices to ingest, and then that’s why they’re getting sick,” he said.
WHAT ABOUT VAPING MEDICAL MARIJUANA?
“Anybody that’s taking medical marijuana for their specific medical condition, it’s done under doctor supervision. If they have any issues, I mean, that’s the first thing, like anything, you’d call your doctor and say, hey, what’s going on,” Dr. Hyland said.