Wyoming governor urges residents to avoid vaping THC

WYOMING — State leaders are urging Wyoming residents to avoid vaping pot until more is known about its potential health effects.

Governor Mark Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) advised that state residents should avoid vaping products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, and to be mindful of vaping-related issues in general.

Two cases of vaping-associated lung illness connected to an ongoing national outbreak have been reported to WDH to date. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 1,604 lung injury cases and 34 related deaths nationally (as of October 22). Many patients have been hospitalized, and some have required mechanical ventilation.

“It’s frightening to see otherwise healthy young people becoming seriously ill or even dying with this outbreak,” Governor Gordon said. “Like many other parents and grandparents, I’m also concerned about the skyrocketing e-cigarette use among our youth. It’s simply an unhealthy choice for them.”

Earlier this month, Governor Gordon directed the WDH to investigate potential actions that could be taken to address vaping-associated lung illness. Last week, a CDC spokesman indicated that data continues to point towards THC-containing products as the source of the vast majority of individuals’ lung injury. The Governor noted the use and sale of THC-containing products is illegal in Wyoming.

“Working with Wyoming’s healthcare providers and federal public health partners to help confirm the outbreak’s specific cause and making recommendations to help prevent more illness is our highest priority,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.

Symptoms associated with the outbreak include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss.

“If people who vape experience symptoms associated with severe lung disease, they should seek medical care right away,” Harrist said.

CDC recommendations include:

  • Do not use vaping products that contain THC.
  • Do not buy vaping products off the street.
  • Do not modify or add any substances to vaping products not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments.
  • Because the possibility remains that nicotine-containing products play a role in the outbreak, consider not vaping products with nicotine.
  • No vaping product is safe for youth, pregnant women or anyone who is not a current tobacco user.

“We know there is a current epidemic of nicotine vaping among our youth and that problem is growing dramatically,” Gordon added. “Vaping is not a safe choice for Wyoming’s youth. I’m asking them to protect their current and future health by making smart choices.”

According to the 2018 Prevention Needs Assessment, 36 percent of Wyoming high school students (10th and 12th graders) currently use e-cigarettes.

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