Amid vaping illness outbreak, DIY vapers take matters into their own hands

2 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago Tuesday, November 19 2019 Nov 19, 2019 Tuesday, November 19, 2019 8:35:00 PM CST November 19, 2019 in News
By: Gaby Morera Di NĂºbila, Regan Mertz & Minh Connors, KOMU 8 Reporters
loading

COLUMBIA - Michael Demkowicz had tried everything to quit smoking.

The patch. The pill. The gum. Nothing worked — until he tried vaping.

“As I started using it more and more, you know, I became less reliant on cigarettes,” Demkowicz said.

The “smoking sensation” that vaping provides helped Demkowicz quit smoking by slowly weaning himself off nicotine. By mixing his own vape liquids, he was able to put less and less nicotine in his vapes and eventually reach zero nicotine intake. He has since stopped vaping altogether.

According to the CDC, nationally there have been over 2,000 illnesses and 42 deaths due to vape-related lung disease. In Missouri, two individuals have died, and 35 have been diagnosed.

Demkowicz and other DIY vapers have taken matters into their own hands by mixing their own e-liquids for their vapes. They said this is safer because they know exactly what ingredients end up in their bodies.

“You know, nothing's great to put in your body that's not supposed to be there,” Demkowicz said. “You know, inhaling something is not necessarily healthy. But vaping is insanely healthier than smoking.”

Meanwhile, health officials are advising people to stop vaping altogether. Although vitamin E acetate has been linked to this lung illness, the CDC says it still cannot rule out other ingredients may still be the cause. According to the CDC, the patients diagnosed with the illness present symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain. They also report fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Leah Martin, the director of advocacy at the American Lung Association in Missouri, said that any chemical substance that is inhaled causes irreversible damage to the lungs.

“We believe that any substance, any kind of dangerous, or chemical substance, inhaled to the lungs causes lung damage,” Martin said.

Sarah Varvaro, a health educator from the Boone County Public Health Department, said people don’t realize how harmful and addictive nicotine is, especially in people under 25 years old.

E-cigarettes sold commercially can be bought with nicotine or without.

“A Juul pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes,” Varvaro said. “And so when people are going through multiple pods a day, and then however many per week, they'll typically be getting more nicotine than they would be if they were to be using regular cigarettes.”

Varvaro said the Department of Public Health is working on ways to educate teens about the issue. The department sends a nurse to educate fifth-graders on the risks of e-cigarettes. Additionally, they started a social media campaign targeting 13-21 year-olds called the “Stand Up for Your Health” campaign which warns against the use of e-cigarettes.

Martin said the American Lung Association in Missouri is also launching a campaign aimed at teens to combat the issue and help prevent teen vape usage.

Demkowicz, though, feels that the benefits of vaping outweigh the alternative, even with the uncertainty of the ingredients. He does not mix vitamin E acetate in his vape liquids.

“Maybe one day in the future, we might — just like with cigarettes — you might learn that one of the ingredients causes this, but there's only four,” Demkowicz said. “So, the odds of having four chemicals cause something bad severely outweighs cigarettes, which have horrible ingredients.”

More News

Grid
List
FERGUSON (CNN) - An off-duty Ferguson police officer was shot multiple times when he confronted a shoplifter at a Walmart... More >>
37 minutes ago Monday, February 17 2020 Feb 17, 2020 Monday, February 17, 2020 2:42:00 PM CST February 17, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Medicaid enrollment in Missouri has both lawmakers and citizens concerned. The state has dropped more than... More >>
50 minutes ago Monday, February 17 2020 Feb 17, 2020 Monday, February 17, 2020 2:29:00 PM CST February 17, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper who was driving a boat when a... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, February 17 2020 Feb 17, 2020 Monday, February 17, 2020 12:21:00 PM CST February 17, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA -- A man charged with shooting at an Ashland Police officer will be going to court tomorrow on charges... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, February 17 2020 Feb 17, 2020 Monday, February 17, 2020 10:28:00 AM CST February 17, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri will spend two days at the capitol,... More >>
19 hours ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:34:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA – Members of Rock Bridge High School’s Students Demand Action group hosted a forum Sunday where local leaders answered... More >>
20 hours ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:07:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
LACEDE COUNTY- One teen died and three others suffered injuries in a single-car-accident Saturday afternoon. The driver of the... More >>
21 hours ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 5:48:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
VIENNA- On Thursday, February 13, Task Force Officers, Vienna Police Department, and the Maries County Sheriff’s Office executed a search... More >>
22 hours ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 4:43:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS COUNTY (AP) — Two teenagers have been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting last week, and authorities... More >>
23 hours ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 4:00:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
HALLSVILLE- A house fire broke out off North Frink Road Sunday afternoon. Firefighters found a fire in the attic... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 2:19:00 PM CST February 16, 2020 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY — Linn Creek, Missouri Police Chief Greg Berry was arrested Saturday afternoon by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 11:32:00 AM CST February 16, 2020 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA — Two women were seriously injured after head-on collision between a Prius and a semi-truck early Sunday morning, according... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 10:41:00 AM CST February 16, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - A new route and a new bus shelter will be added at the intersection of Rice Road and... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, February 16 2020 Feb 16, 2020 Sunday, February 16, 2020 10:00:00 AM CST February 16, 2020 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Thousands of people and more than 300 gallons of chili filled the Expo Center Saturday for the 15th... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 15 2020 Feb 15, 2020 Saturday, February 15, 2020 7:50:00 PM CST February 15, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Runners braved the cold weather Saturday morning for the R.A.M.S 5K. R.A.M.S is a nonprofit MU organization... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 15 2020 Feb 15, 2020 Saturday, February 15, 2020 6:44:00 PM CST February 15, 2020 in News
FESTUS (AP) — Police in eastern Missouri say a 73-year-old man has been shot to death, and his 42-year-old son... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 15 2020 Feb 15, 2020 Saturday, February 15, 2020 5:28:00 PM CST February 15, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - One of Missouri State Highway Patrol's vehicles was struck by a semitruck late Thursday night. MSHP shared... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 15 2020 Feb 15, 2020 Saturday, February 15, 2020 4:44:00 PM CST February 15, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Don Allard, who served as Columbia’s city manager for 12 years, died Wednesday in Arvada, Colorado, after a... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 15 2020 Feb 15, 2020 Saturday, February 15, 2020 4:10:00 PM CST February 15, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 48°
4pm 54°
5pm 52°
6pm 50°
7pm 49°