ATLANTA — The state Department of Public Health issued a health advisory on vaping following the second vaping-associated death in Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp in coordination with the department warned Georgians of the risks of vaping and e-cigarettes that now include serious lung injury, addiction and risk of death.

Kemp said "the safety of Georgians" is his number one priority.

"This public health advisory will notify Georgians of the potential hazards associated with adolescent vaping and encourage youth to take proactive steps to safeguard their health and well-being," Kemp said in a statement. "We are asking convenience stores, vape shops and leaders in communities throughout Georgia to join us in raising awareness.”

The advisory notes investigations into vaping-related illnesses being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is based in Atlanta. While the investigation is ongoing, individuals should not use e-cigarettes or vapes, the advisory warns.

Even though the first person who died in Georgia had a history of “heavy nicotine vaping,” but did not report a history of vaping other substances, such as THC, the health advisory says CDC investigations suggest THC plays a role in lung illnesses.

The Department of Health has now identified two cases of death related to vaping and e-cigarette use in Georgia and 14 cases of vaping-associated illness. The CDC is working with states across the nation to investigate more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related illness and at least 18 deaths.

Other recommendations of the advisory include:

    • Never buy vaping products off the street or modify with additional substances

    • Use of nicotine and tobacco products by adolescents is unsafe

    • Vapes and e-cigarettes are not safe to use during pregnancy

    • E-cigarette aerosol also contains other cancer-causing chemicals and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead

    • E-cigarettes are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a quit smoking aid and should not be used as such

Symptoms of vaping-caused illness — which worsen over time — include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the department of public health. Individuals with a history of vaping can expect breathing problems.

Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the state’s Department of Public Health, met in a closed meeting Wednesday, Oct. 2, “to provide an update on our work to gather data and conduct research on the challenges posed by adolescent vaping in Georgia.” At the time, information on the meeting was not released.

“The increasing numbers of vaping-associated lung injury and death are clear indications of the need for people to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations and not vape,” Toomey said in a statement. “The Georgia Department of Public Health is working closely with Gov. Kemp and the Georgia Department of Education to provide education and awareness about the imminent health risks of vaping and e-cigarette use, especially among adolescents.”

As the CDC and department of health continue to release warnings about vaping and e-cigarette use, lawmakers are already responding to vaping concerns. State Reps. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, and Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, announced last week their intent to introduce legislation during the upcoming 2020 legislative session to tackle vaping and e-cigarette use in Georgia.

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