Milwaukee health officials urge people to stop vaping

NOW: Milwaukee health officials urge people to stop vaping

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- The City of Milwaukee Health Department is asking residents stop using any vape or e-cigarette devices immediately. As of Wednesday, 16 people have been hospitalized and diagnosed with lung conditions.

It’s not just a Milwaukee problem. So far 10 Wisconsin counties have confirmed cases.

Dr. Michael Gutzeit at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin says the emergency is real. They see an average of one new patient per week due to vaping. 

The cause could be vaping marijuana oils or using unlicensed vaping products, but the Milwaukee Health Department says what exactly is sending people to the hospital is still unknown. That’s part of the reason vape businesses in Milwaukee say the alert is unfair.

"Well they just need to do their homework a little more and find out the details, they're just panicking right now," said William Giles, Owner of Lakeview Vapor.

Ever since the hospitalizations began, Giles has seen a drop in sales.

"We've had a little lower in sales but we still have a lot of customers that still don't want to go back to a cigarette," adds Giles.

Mike Michalak has vaped for 15 years and always buys his supplies from a vape shop. He hasn't run into any health issues, but is aware of products being sold outside of shops.

"Who knows where kids are getting it from,” said Michalak. “There are THC pens and all sorts of different chemicals that are not sold in a vapor shop."

"Just be careful, they’ve not been tested and who knows what somebody's putting in there,” said Giles.  

Dr. Gutzeit is encouraging parents have a conversation with their teens of the risks associated with vaping. He says the influx of patients reported around the country underscores its danger.

The Milwaukee Health Department says if you are using vaping products and are experiencing chest pains, fatigue, cough, fever, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss and shortness of breath, call your doctor immediately.

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