Photo of a vaping device that can be used for nicotine or cannabis from reader Kylee Rayne Reichow
OREGON - The companies who sold vaping products touted their devices as an effective and safe way to cut down on smoking cigarettes.
Now, government agencies — including Washington County and the Oregon Health Authority— are asking residents to stop vaping, now.
You might die, they imply.
"Public Health Warning: People should stop vaping immediately" reads the headline on a press release from the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon's top state governing body for a variety of health initiatives and programs.
At least two people have died in Oregon from vape-related illnesses, with a total of five vape-related illnesses reported throughout Oregon, with more reported throughout the nation, according to state officials.
“People should stop vaping immediately,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, state health officer. “If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit.”
He added: “If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.”
The state, along with federal authorities, are scrambling to find a out why people across the nation appear to be dying from vape products, also known as electronic cigarette or e-cigarettes.
It's an escalation in the OHA's warnings surrounding vaping products - previously, the OHA had issued a statement on September 12, noting that "E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products used among Oregon youth, with 21 percent of Oregon 11th graders reporting e-cigarette use in 2018," according to a press release.
This is a bit of a trial by fire for Sidelinger. He began his position as state health officer only ten days ago, jumping into the position of state health officer less than two weeks ago. Previously, he served as deputy health officer at the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency in California.
Sidelinger was joined by Dr. Jennifer Vines, deputy health officer for Multnomah County at a briefing held in Portland Thursday, Sept. 26, watched live by Journal reporter Chas Hundley.
The entirety of the briefing can be seen on the Oregon Health Authority's Youtube channel here.
The two doctors noted that two adults have died in Oregon, tied to cannabis-related vaping.
The two individuals who died are among a cohort of five people in Oregon confirmed to have reported ill from vaping-related causes, all from cannabis vaping.
There could be more ill in Oregon from vaping - Sidelinger stated that he did not have the number of probable cases for vape-related illnesses, but implied that there were such cases in Oregon in response to a question during a briefing.
According to Sidelinger, Governor Kate Brown is examining a variety of possible solutions to the issue, including a potential ban on vape-related products in the state.
Recommendations from the OHA to the governor are expected within 24 hours.
This is a developing story; visit our website in the coming days and weeks for more articles on this issue.