COPD conference examines this year’s unprecedented surge in vaping-related lung illnesses

Paul Kurtz
November 05, 2019 - 5:24 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Temple Lung Center, in collaboration with the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, hosted the fourth annual International COPD Conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday. And for the first time, the conference included a session on the dangers of vaping. 

Dr. Sarah Kabbani, medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shared some alarming statistics for conference attendees: As of Oct. 29, there have been nearly 2,000 vaping-related lung injury cases and 37 deaths reported in the U.S.

Officials don’t know what’s causing the lung injuries, though researchers have found a possible link to THC. The outbreak was only discovered this summer.

Kentucky-based pulmonary physician David Mannino said there are a lot of things they still don’t yet understand.

“One of the things the CDC and FDA are trying to do is get us a better picture of what may be going on,” he said. “The hope is that ultimately we'll be able to figure out exactly what is going on and come up with a public health plan going forward.”

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Until a better picture emerges, Temple Lung Center Director Gerard Criner said the CDC is issuing a cease-and-desist recommendation. 

“If you want to avoid any case of e-cigarette or vaping injury, don’t use any at the present time,” Criner suggested. “Use established means for smoking cessation that exist and are recommended, including behavioral techniques as well as medications and some counseling.”

Vaping-related lung injuries appear to be a uniquely American medical emergency. No lung injury cases have been reported overseas, and only five have been found in Canada.

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CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, Gerard Criner's name was misspelled.