Medical professionals discourage people from vaping, while vaping enthusiasts say it's a safe alternative to smoking.
BAY COUNTY - With vaping the subject of national headlines about vaping-related illnesses and increasing scrutiny, medical professionals and vaping enthusiasts in Bay County recently spoke with The News Herald about their perspective on the issue.
Jack Scott, medical director of the emergency department for the Ascension Sacred Heart facility in Panama City Beach, said his opinion of vaping isn’t that different from smoking.
“In general it’s not a really good thing to inhale things in your lungs,” Scott said.
Scott said he is seeing much younger patients currently vaping than were seen smoking. He's also seeing respiratory illnesses in teens.
There are other factors to consider in the local area with respiratory issues, such as mold and red tide, Scott said.
As for his reactions to news reports on issues with vaping, Scott said he appreciates that the subject has gotten a lot of press.
“As a doctor, I have to recommend people” not vape or smoke, Scott said. “We recommend people not smoke any product at all.”
Chadd Stewart, a vape user, said the problem is illegal THC cartridges being sold to people who can’t afford medical marijuana cards – and those cartridges can be mixed with other substances, including fentanyl.
“They’re literally smoking them for four or five days and ending up in the hospital,” Stewart said.
A. Oussama Rifai and Derek Robinson, the ICU management team at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, said they have seen patients who have been “profoundly affected and compromised” by vaping. Debris from Hurricane Michael could contribute to respiratory illnesses in addition to vaping, Rifai said.
“There are a lot of patients who come in with pneumonia, who come in with respiratory illnesses but they end up on the floors,” Rifai said. “It’s a new type of a disease we haven’t seen before. There are young, healthy people that do not have any prior lung illness and they come in with this respiratory illness.”
Robinson said vaping is not a healthier option to smoking, despite being advertised as such, and statements have been released that the long-term health effects of vaping are unknown.
“It needs to be regulated,” Rifai said.
Vaping enthusiast David Flowers said increasing scrutiny will puts hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs. He personally believes vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking and said no one under the age of 18 should be allowed to vape.
“I personally have been vaping for almost nine years,” Flowers said. “I’ve had no adverse reactions.”//