Milwaukee Asks Residents To Stop Vaping Immediately, But Chicago Doctor Says Concerns Are Unclear

Bernie Tafoya
August 29, 2019 - 1:29 pm

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- There are health warnings Thursday about vaping in Milwaukee, but an emergency medicine expert in Chicago said it’s hard to tell if there’s a problem here. 

Dr. Trevor Lewis, interim chair of Emergency Medicine at Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, which includes Stroger Hospital, said that while doctors probably are under-identifying the number of patients who vape, there’s nothing to indicate vaping is responsible for lung-issues here.

"As far as I can tell, we haven’t seen any specific cases here, but it’s hard to identify. You see a lot of patients who have respiratory illnesses. There’s a lot of patients with asthma and lung-related illnesses in the city as well," Dr. Lewis said.

Dr. Lewis said it's hard to tell if someone's lung-related problem is caused by vaping, specifically.

"You might see them with a very bad exacerbation or flare-up but you might not know what caused it," he said.

Dr. Lewis said the problem with vaping is that it’s largely unregulated and that the FDA does not post a lot of guidelines on what’s actually in vaping products.

Dr. Lewis' concern with vaping is that, in young people, it’s seen now as a "gateway to smoking" cigarettes when it was supposed to be a way to quit smoking.

"It was originally billed as safe alternative to smoking, if you have no other mechanism for smoking cessation, but the unintended consequences, it's infiltrated the younger age groups and now can be seen as a vehicle then to smoking which is not what you want," he said.

The health department in Milwaukee has asked residents to stop vaping or using e-cigarettes immediately.  As of Wednesday, 16 people had been hospitalized and diagnosed with lung conditions. Officials believe the problem could be vaping marijuana oils or using unlicensed vaping products.