E-cigarettes and medical emergencies: What you need to know

Latest from the CDC:

CDC Information on severe lung disease(link opens in new window)

Health officials are investigating several hundred confirmed cases of a potentially deadly respiratory illness related to e-cigarette use, raising concerns nationwide about the dangers of vaping.

Here are some important questions and answers about this outbreak and e-cigarettes

What's causing the illnesses?

The exact cause hasn't been determined. While e-cigarettes are used for tobacco, the CDC says several patients also reporting vaping THC, the principal psychoactive element in marijuana. The CDC says more information is needed to better understand whether a specific product or substance is causing the illnesses.

What should e-cigarette smokers do?

The American Heart Association recommends avoiding these products. If you do use them, promptly seek medical attention if symptoms appear. Your local poison control center can answer non-emergency questions about e-cigarettes at 1-800-222-1222.

What if I'm using e-cigarettes to quit smoking?

This should be considered after trying proven approaches to quitting smoking, and then only while working with your health care provider. Some smokers have reported quitting with the aid of e-cigarettes, but vaping hasn't been proven to help people stop.

How dangerous are e-cigarettes?

The scientific understanding of the short- and long-term health impact is still not known. However, e-cigarettes usually contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and has adverse effects on the developing brain. E-cigarette users are increasingly experimenting with chemicals including THC, the principal psychoactive element in marijuana.

What is the American Heart Association doing about e-cigarettes?

Our organization works at the federal, state and community levels to support public policies that prevent tobacco use (PDF) and end tobacco use and nicotine addiction. We also are working to make people aware of the hazards of tobacco use, effective ways to quit tobacco and what parents can do to prevent tobacco use among children.