Vaping Illnesses in Indiana Under Investigation

("Vaping" by Lindsay Fox)

INDIANAPOLIS–At least 11 people in Indiana have gotten seriously sick after vaping. But, what they vaped was likely not what’s sold in stores. Dr. Joel Nitzkin, a national tobacco expert who has a preventive medicine practice, said the substance that made them sick was sold illegally.

“There seems to be introduced into the market place some synthetic cannabinoid dissolved in God knows what that’s being distributed through back channels and on the street,” he said.

While the Indiana Dept. of Health confirmed in mid-August, 11 people were sick with the vaping illness, the number of people who had it nationally was 94 in 14 states. The illness included coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue, as symptoms that got worse over time.

That later turned into fever, chest pain, gastrointestinal issues and weight loss, according to the CDC.

“It is not caused by the general run of vaping products that have been available for years from vape shops,” said Nitzkin. “We know it’s some type of marijuana analogue, more than likely a THC oil than a CBD oil, but we don’t know for sure.”

Nitzkin said that while he believes vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, and has a much less chance of causing serious illness, the material that is causing the vaping illness is in a class by itself.

“So, yes, it’s better not to inhale anything in your lungs that does not belong there. But, if you do choose to vape, absolutely stay away from anything that’s from a questionable source or purchased on the street.”