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DC Health Department Advises Residents to Stop Using E-Cigarettes

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) is notifying residents that until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines the cause of over 450 possible cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarette products in 33 states and 1 U.S. territory, e-cigarettes or vaping products should not be used. To date, there have been no cases of vaping-related lung illnesses associated with products sold in D.C. Medical Marijuana dispensaries. Residents should not buy products off the street or add substances not intended by the manufacturer.

Symptoms of illness related to e-cigarette use include:
•    Coughing
•    Shortness of breath
•    Chest pain
•    Nausea
•    Diarrhea
•    Fatigue
•    Fever
•    Weight loss

“Some e-cigarettes looks like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items,” said Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, Director, DC Health. “Many e-cigarettes and vaping materials contain harmful or potentially harmful substances, and it is difficult to know what each individual product contains.”

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine (the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products), flavorings, and other chemicals to help make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs. Bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air. E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes.

They are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems.” Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called “vaping” or “JUULing.”

E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as a quit smoking aid. So far, the research shows there is limited evidence that e-cigarettes are effective for helping smokers quit. There are other proven, safe, and effective methods for quitting smoking. One way to start is to talk with your doctor, nurse, or a trained quitline counselor to figure out the best strategies for you. You can get free, effective support from a DC Quitline counselor by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 202-333-4488 (for Spanish-speaking callers).

For more information on e-cigarettes, visit

For more information on the outbreak, visit this link.

For the Residents of DC: Who to Contact

If you are concerned about your health after vaping or using an e-cigarette:

  • Contact your healthcare provider, or
  • Call the National Capital Poison Control Center at 1 (800) 222-1222

For Healthcare Providers: Who to Contact

Promptly report any suspected cases you have seen since July to the District of Columbia Department of Health using the Notifiable Disease and Condition Case Report Form


The District of Columbia Department of Health promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital.