Bay County not spared by vaping epidemic


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)–With the CDC confirming nearly 400 vaping related lung cases…it’s safe to say the vaping epidemic is on the rise and Bay County is not being spared.

Dr. Ahmad Rifai works in the Intensive Care Unit at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, and he says vaping related illnesses are popping up in Bay County. While he cannot discuss them due to HIPAA, he says they are definitely present and people should take it seriously.

He says it all comes back to the lack of regulation.

“It’s an unregulated industry so this vaping supply could be orange juice, it could be apple juice from the store, could be different oils and flavors and fragrances so that is going down the lungs that has not been tested before,” Rifai said.

While it took decades to learn of the deadly side effects of cigarettes…doctors say we’re seeing the side effects of vaping immediately.

“We know we don’t have to wait 30-40 years to know that vaping is bad. We are seeing it every day,” Rifai said.

When people vape, they’re inhaling extremely irritating air into their lungs.

“Think about you have your hand that you put it very close to the stove. This is the heat of the air that we’re inhaling into the lungs that is touching the inside of the lungs so basically we’re having a burn form on the inside of the lungs,” Rifai said.

Rifai says residents in Bay County have to be careful because the air quality is already compromised.”Those people who vape now are having double whammy by having the air from Hurricane Michael affecting us plus the unregulated material that we’re ingesting mainly hot air, hot water vapor, and unregulated chemicals that we don’t know what they are,” Rifai said.​

The testing of vape products is happening in real-time…on real individuals. Doctors urge people to pick up healthier habits before it’s too late.

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