ODH has begun reporting twice per week on the number of hospitalizations in the state. As of the latest report on Thursday, the 17 patients were in 11 counties and ranged in age from 16 to 59.
James Jarvis, president of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association, said the industry is concerned about products that people have tainted or manipulated at home, which is dangerous.
Jarvis doesn’t want to see blanket warnings telling people not to vape. He said vaping has helped many people quit smoking cigarettes and such warnings could scare people back to using traditional cigarettes and their negative health effects.
“A blanket statement like what happened in Michigan is dangerous and irresponsible and detrimental to their health,” Jarvis said.
Michigan banned flavored e-cigarettes, with the exception of tobacco flavored, this month as an emergency rule, following the illnesses. It was the first state to do so.
E-cigarettes, which can be used to inhale a flavored nicotine vapor, have grown in popularity in recent years, including among teens. Health experts say nicotine is harmful to developing brains and researchers worry that addicted teens will switch from vaping to smoking.
The e-cigarette use rate among high school-age youths in the U.S. increased by 78 percent from 2017 to 2018. This means that more than 3 million U.S. high school students have used the devices in the past month, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Most experts agree the aerosol in e-cigarettes is less harmful than traditional cigarette smoke because it does not contain most of the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco.
But there is virtually no research on the long-term effects of the vaping chemicals, some of which are toxic.
The CDC warned that people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street, should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer.
Many of the ill patients reported recent use of THC-containing products, while some reported using both THC- and nicotine-containing products. A smaller group reported using nicotine only.
No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified in these patients, the CDC said, therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure. However, it is too early to pinpoint a single product or substance common to all cases.
“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said in a statement. “All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.”