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Utah Department Of Health Investigating Link Between Vaping And Lung Disease

An e-cigarette user vaping.
Lindsay Fox
An e-cigarette user vaping.

It’s been presented as a safe alternative to smoking, but health officials in Utah are reporting that vaping is possibly linked to five serious hospitalizations across the state. In a press release last week, the Utah Department of Health said all five patients reported shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue and chest pain, which progressively worsened. The department said it’s unclear whether the patients will suffer long-term health effects. 

At a press conference earlier this month, University of Utah pulmonologist Scott Aberegg discussed the trend.

“I think we, like, everyone else dismissed the hazards of vaping because there’s a push to perceive it as a safer alternative to smoking," Aberegg said. "If you are vaping and you develop a flu-like illness or respiratory symptoms, I think it’s worth considering that maybe the vaping is the cause of that.” 

In one case reported by the Washington Post, a Provo man who reported vaping suffered lung failure and had to be kept alive by breathing machines. His father told the Post that doctors initially thought the man wouldn’t survive, though he later made a partial recovery.

A health department spokesperson told Utah Public Radio that they wouldn’t be able to comment because they’re busy investigating new cases in addition to the initial five reported this month.