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UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center Launches New Vaping Clinic

February 26, 2024

E-cigarettes were first introduced in the United States in 2007. These battery-powered devices heat liquid mixtures to aerosols. Research has shown that vaping, including e-cigarette use, is associated with a wide range of lung injuries.

In 2019, vaping was linked to an epidemic of pulmonary issues. The CDC named the vaping-related lung illnesses: E-Cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI). Nearly 3,000 people endured vaping-induced lung injury, and 68 people died from EVALI.

The outbreak of EVALI was primarily linked to the additive vitamin E acetate. There are additional aspects of vaping that are believed to cause lung illness such as humectants, flavorings, cannabis-derived ingredients, metallic coil corrosion, and the heating process of vaping devices.

“Nicotine isn’t the only harmful aspect of vaping. The vapors and aerosols that people are inhaling are potentially dangerous to the lungs as well,” says Shikha Gupta, MD, a pulmonologist at the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center.

As the number of vaping users in the United States continues to rise, the UPMC Comprehensive Lung Center is combatting the vaping epidemic with the launch of a new Vaping Clinic. The clinic’s main goals are to alleviate patients’ symptoms and increase knowledge on vaping-induced lung injury.

Specifically, the clinic is for patients who vape and are interested in assessment of their lung health or are experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath, coughing up sputum, recurrent infections, bronchitis, and asthma-like symptoms.

Specialists at the Vaping Clinic conduct a comprehensive assessment of lung health for each patient, which may include a pulmonary function test. The clinic also offers services for individuals wanting to stop vaping or smoking.

“Vaping was originally marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Here at the clinic, we have more effective strategies available to help patients quit smoking,” says Dr. Gupta.

In addition to clinical services, the Vaping Clinic is conducting innovative research on vaping-related lung injury. Divay Chandra, MD, MSc, alongside other pulmonary and critical care experts, have formed the Electronic Cigarette Research Initiative to better understand e-cigarettes and their effect on the lungs.

“We have formed the Electronic Cigarette Research Initiative on the foundation of collaboration, which is what the lung division at UPMC is known for. Together, we are working to develop infrastructure, tools, and techniques to understand this problem and prepare for the future,” says Dr. Chandra.

With the recent emergence of vaping, UPMC’s research has the potential to create a foundational understanding of vaping-induced injury.

“If current trends continue, in two to three years, we will reach a landmark in U.S. public health where there will be more adults that use electronic cigarettes than conventional cigarettes,” says Dr. Chandra.

The UPMC Vaping Clinic is working to anticipate trends and protect the lung health of future generations.

To learn more about the UPMC Vaping Clinic, or to refer a patient, visit our website or call 412-648-6161.