LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As concern grows over possible illness related to e-cigarette products, the Southern Nevada Health District reported its first confirmed case of serious illness related to vaping in Clark County.
SNHD said the case involves a person under the age of 18 with a severe respiratory illness linked to vaping. The person was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms and later released and recovering. A pulmonary infection has not been identified, according to SNHD.
“Identifying a case in a young person who used vaping products that should not have been available to them is an unfortunate reminder of how pervasive these items have become and the danger they pose to our children and the public,” said SNHD Chief Health Officer Dr. Joe Iser.
SNHD said they continue to advise against using vaping products and e-cigarettes and said it should never be used by children, young adults, pregnant women and people who do not currently use tobacco products.
Symptoms associated with the reported illnesses defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
- Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
- Non-specific symptoms (fatigue, fever, or weight loss)
SNHD said people who use e-cigarettes and experience any of the above symptoms are advised to seek medical attention.
“The concern is that all of these individuals that have come down with these respiratory illnesses have used e-cigarettes and some of them have actually bought them off the black market,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, Director of community health for the Southern Nevada Health District.
“It’s really easy actually,” said 16-year-old, Matthew Alvarez. “You see school students sell it all the time. Some places don’t even card. I some places are notorious actually for not carding when you actually go up there and ask for a vape.”
SNHD gave numbers to back it up. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration tracks how easy it is for minors to get tobacco products illegally.
The Attorney General’s office goes around trying to make undercover tobacco purchases every year (similar to alcohol enforcement). They do this around a thousand times then release the data.
“In the last two years our sales rate increased from 4 percent, to 13 percent, and now we’re hovering around 30 percent,” said Malcolm Ahlo with the Southern Nevada Health District.
Once of the most popular solutions is raising the age restriction to 21. There were two bills that didn’t pass in the most recent legislative session that would’ve raised the age to 21.
Alvarez said he sees kids vaping in class daily. Reporter, Christopher Redfearn, asked him if he thought bumping the age up to 21 would actually make a difference.
“I do, because I have way more friends that are 18,” said Alvarez. “I don’t think I have any friends that are 21 so that would make it even harder to get access to nicotine product like that. It would get people less hooked.”
Erika Pearce, owner of Local Vape in Henderson, says black market products are to blame for the recent spike in vaping related illnesses, not controlled products one would find in smoke shops.
“Somebody has gone and made what I’m going to call the ‘meth’ of THC carts, infused them with vitamin E and in some cases thickening agents. Things that should absolutely not be inhaled,” said Pearce.
President Trump has called for his administration to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid what some people are calling a vaping crisis.
“People are dying with vaping. So we’re looking at it very closely,” said Trump.
SNHD said there have been 450 possible cases reported nationwide and six deaths with the most recent case reported on September 10.
The CDC also reported that many but not all patients reported using e-cigarette products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).