Vaping: What we don’t know can kill us?

As of this week, the CDC has informed us that over 450 people have pulmonary illnesses that are linked to e-cigarette use including some in West Virginia.  They are also asking practitioners to help them find out if there are other illnesses yet to be identified that are linked to vaping.  Five people have been confirmed dead.  

These devices are relatively new to the market.  Though there have been patents going back to the 1930s for vaporizers for this purpose, the appearance of people sucking on a device that looks like a USB drive and blowing small puffs of the almost odorless vapor is relatively new. Since former United States Surgeon General C. Everett Koop warned the United States of the dangers of smoking cigarettes they’ve become less cool.  Still, close to one in four West Virginians is a daily tobacco user.  Companies like Altria are shifting their supply by buying the technology to create e-cigarettes and are advertising them as the new cool and less harmless that the cigarettes they have sold for years.  The CDCs release tells us otherwise. 

In my AHP interview with Dr. Sherri Young, a public health physician and author, we discussed the dangers of vaping and how we truly do not know what happens to those who do.  States are now outlawing the flavors like cotton candy and bubble gum that most in public health believe to be marketed to minors.  Right now, we don’t know what happens if you’re a life long vaper.  Dr. Young says parents should be talking with their children.

You can see the CDC’s information here: Look for my interview, available on September 9th, with Dr. Young on the Appalachian Health Podcast available wherever you get great content or at

WVSMA Annual Meeting in the Books

WVSMA Annual Meeting August 25, 2019
The Greenbrier Resort
White Sulphur Springs, WV

The West Virginia State Medical Association finished its Annual Meeting last week.  As the largest gathering of physicians in the State, it left participants energized and ready to work.  The conference goers were more amazed by the star studded lineup than the spectacular Greenbrier Resort or majestic Greenbrier Valley.  This year’s theme was “The Year of Giving Back”.

The Friday morning sessions began with a welcome video from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin who thanked the WVSMA for working with him on the recent Jesse’s Law followed by Dr. Lorenzo Pence and Dr. Bob Foster who gave informative talks on Osteopathic Medicine in the 21st century.  Followed by the wildly popular “Lunch with the Deans” who gave updates on what West Virignia’s medical schools are working on right now and how they work together.  On top of other Friday topics, West Virginia’s Legislative Leadership addressed the crowd and took even the toughest of questions from the WVSMA membership.

Congresswoman Carol Miller opened the Saturday session that had a panel discussion on public health issues in West Virginia.  Dr. Rahul Gupta of the March of Dimes updated the membership on maternal & child health.  The afternoon’s festivities were punctuated by Dr. Sherri Young.  Dr. Young gave a riveting speech after being introduced by this video:  She brought tears and a standing ovation.  There were other presentations in the afternoon, including Dr. Brooke Buckley’s discussion on emotional intelligence.  The education sessions ended on a true high note with a keynote address by Dr. Peter Salk on public health issues.  

The culmination of the event was the Mako Medical Gala that had Dr. Patrice Harris address the crowd. Dr. Harris is a Mercer County native, WVU Graduate, and current President of the American Medical Association. Justice Evan Jenkins administered the oath of office to WVSMA’s 2019-2020 leadership including Dr. Young who took the reigns as President.

WVSMA Annual Meeting


In just a few short days, the West Virginia State Medical Association will gavel in its Annual Meeting at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV.  This is the premier event for medicine and public health in West Virginia each year.  It brings together physicians from all specialities to learn and debate the health policy topics of the day.

The two day event begins on Friday, with Dr. Lorenzo Pence giving an lecture on the historic issue of Single GME Accreditation.  Later in the day the Deans of all three medical schools in West Virginia will present and answer questions from the audience on issues from medical education to social determinants of health.  Leadership from the West Virignia legislature will be on hand to discuss current topics in health policy.  Other topics for Friday sessions include osteopathic manipulation and health homes.

The event continues Saturday with nationally known speakers like Dr. Brooke Buckley of Meritus Health, Dr. Rahul Gupta from the March of Dimes, and vaccine expert Dr. Peter Salk.  Topics on Saturday include vaccines, maternal mortality, tobacco policy, emotional intelligence, and heart health.  The day will culminate in a gala sponsored by Mako Medical where AMA President and West Virginia native Dr. Patrice Harris will speak and Dr. Sherri Young being inaugurated as President of the Association.

This event is the premier gathering of the house of medicine in West Virginia. Registration is still available by going to