One of many startling findings the New Jersey Hospital Association details in their latest report: emergency room records show patients as young as 10 now report having used e-cigarette devices.
To get more information about e-cigarette use across the state, the nonprofit trade organization took a look at hospital data from January 2017 to August of this year. The organization saw an increase in emergency department and inpatient cases in which patients reported using e-cigarettes – from 6,088 two years ago to 15,853 projected by the end of this year.
In New Jersey, the data shows e-cigarette use is most common between the ages of 18 and 24.
Dr. Joseph Underwood, chair of emergency medicine at Hackensack University Medical Center, explains that the trends highlighted in the report reflect what they’re seeing at his hospital.
“It could be a mild, self-limited, uncomplicated respiratory symptom,” said Underwood. “Or it could be fulminant respiratory failure, requiring somebody to go on a ventilator, or anything in between along that spectrum.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, THC has been found in most of the samples tested by FDA. But the CDC emphasizes it has not identified the cause of the lung injuries, nor have they been officially linked to vaping devices.
“I don’t think that we’re at the point where we could say that there’s a causation, what we can say is that there’s a correlation,” said Dr. Cathleen Bennett, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. “As we look at this more deeply in the coming years we’ll start to be able to tie in whether or not there is a direct causal link.”
“It impacts many, many people and vulnerable populations like children who probably don’t fully understand what they’re getting,” said Underwood.
He says education is key during this time. Hackensack University Medical Center has launched a million-dollar campaign to combat the vaping crisis. The money will in part be given to schools and community groups.