Biloxi, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) issued a statement regarding one death and more than 200 possible cases of lung disease in the U.S. that could be linked to e-cigarette use.
MSDH cited a notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that 215 cases were reported across 25 states. So far, no cases have been reported in Mississippi.
“Lungs are kind of a very sensitive organ that was never meant to be exposed to such toxins and chemicals," said Dr. Adullah Waheed with Singing River Health System. He noted that research on e-cigarettes and vaping is in very early stages.
“At this point, we only have evidence to suggest some linkage but not really cause and effect," said Dr. Waheed. “But you know, that’s how we started with smoking in the first place. Now, we have years of data to suggest the harmful effects of smoking.”
MSDH’s statement also warns people to stay away from black market products, which are unprotected by the Food and Drug Administration’s strict rules.
Bill Wilkstrom is the owner of Vaporized, a vape shop that has 13 locations in Mississippi and Alabama.
“It’s not uncommon to find out that there are do-it-yourselfers who are selling to their friends," said Wikstrom.
He believes the 215 cases reported represent a small fraction of e-cigarette users nationwide.
”All across the world, more and more governments are accepting vaping as a legitimate tobacco harm-reduction methodology to get people off of smoking combustible tobacco," he said.
He says those who tamper with vaping cartridges give the industry a bad name. “They’re going to come in and buy a product from us, but there’s not much we can do once they go out the door.”
While Wikstrom welcomes the FDA regulations, he hopes people can do research on their own before jumping to conclusions.
“It’s more about how it’s headlined and trying to associate drug use and vaping," he said. “It’s not the same thing. Vaping is about tobacco use reduction."
MSDH says no single e-cigarette product or device has been identified as the common cause of lung-related illnesses. However, many of the cases reported included the use of THC cartridges bought illegally.