The Ministry of Health and Welfare strongly advised the public to stop using liquid electronic cigarettes, after receiving the first case of suspected lung injury, apparently caused by vaping.
The ministry also asked the medical community to check patients’ use of liquid e-cigarettes when examining them for lung diseases and to recommend vapers to stop using the device. Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo made the warning at a news conference on Wednesday.
|Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo holds a news conference on Wednesday, urging the public to stop using liquid e-cigarettes because of safety risks.|
The health ministry recommended restricting the use of liquid e-cigarettes and started monitoring suspicious cases on Sept. 20. It received the first suspicious case of lung injury tied to e-cigarette on Oct. 2.
The patient had symptoms of suspected pneumonia and was hospitalized for a week after treatment. The patient has been discharged without a serious aftereffect.
Until the government finishes preparing second-phase safety measures for liquid e-cigarettes and verifies their risk, the public should stop vaping, the ministry said. It particularly warned against minors’ use.
Under the second-phase measures, the government is laying the legal ground to prevent the black market of cigarettes and enhance monitoring. Accordingly, it has expanded the legal definition of tobacco to include stalks and roots of tobacco and nicotine. The ministry also mandated cigarette manufacturers and importers to submit information such as ingredients and additives in both tobacco and smoke.
It then decided to prohibit the addition of fragrance in cigarettes in gradual phases, as the flavored products make it easier for teenagers and women to start smoking.
The government’s proposed bills for the expansion of the tobacco definition, submission of harmful ingredients and disclosure, and ban of fragrance addition in tobacco are all pending at the National Assembly. The ministry said it would actively seek the bills’ passage.
Also, the government said it would speed up the investigation into the relationship between liquid e-cigarettes’ harm and lung damage.
To do so, the government will set up a joint probe team with private experts. The team will conduct a case study of severe lung injury among visitors to emergency rooms and respiratory departments to secure further suspected cases and to reveal the correlation through clinical, epidemiological studies.
Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) will analyze national statistics and national health insurance data to review the correlation between vaping and lung injuries, and announce the results in the first half of next year.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety plans to complete the analysis of harmful substances in liquid e-cigarettes by November to scientifically support a recall and sales ban of liquid e-cigarettes.
The government urged doctors to help prevent lung injuries associated with liquid e-cigarettes.
Physicians will need to check if patients recently used liquid e-cigarettes when they had symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal abnormalities (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea), fatigue, fever, and weight loss.
If a user of liquid e-cigarettes has those symptoms, the doctor should urge the patient to stop using it, the government said.
“This is a serious situation where many cases of serious lung injuries and deaths occurred. We strongly recommend discontinuing the use of liquid e-cigarettes until the causal relationship between the cases and liquid e-cigarettes is established,” Park said.
As the issue is directly linked to the public’s life and health, the government will actively cooperate with the National Assembly to pass the bill for enhancing tobacco safety management, he added.
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