Just a couple of weeks ago, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that it was investigating 153 possible cases within 16 states of a mysterious lung disease that could be associated with the use of e-cigarettes. All the reported cases had occurred between June 28th and August 20th, and no one had died of the unnamed illness; until now.
Sadly, authorities recently reported that seven people already died from vaping-related illnesses. The seventh death occurred during Monday (September 16, 2019) in central California, and was confirmed by a press release from the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency. The states of Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon have also reported one fatality each.
Dr. Karen Haught, public health officer for Tulare County, California, commented about the incident, saying “With sadness, we report that there has been a death of a Tulare County resident suspected to be related to severe pulmonary injury associated with vaping.”
The seventh victim was a 40-year-old man from California. As it was stated by Dr. Karen Haught, the man died over the weekend due to health complications that were directly related to the use of e-cigarettes. According to older reports, the 40-year-old man had been sick for several weeks and suffered from a pulmonary injury associated with his vaping habits.
In the same press release, Dr. Karen Haught also shared the Agency’s point of view about the use of e-cigarettes, saying “The Tulare County Public Health Branch would like to warn all residents that any use of e- cigarettes poses a possible risk to the health of the lungs and can potentially cause severe lung injury that may even lead to death. Long-term effects of vaping on health are unknown. Anyone considering vaping should be aware of the serious potential risk associated with vaping.”
Just recently, during the end of June, the city of San Francisco announced a ban on e-cigarette sales, which will go into effect in early 2020. The future ordinance will forbid tobacco shops in the city of San Francisco that haven’t been approved by the FDA from selling e-cigarettes.
Now, according to CNN, California is found in a similar scenario, looking to launch a $20 million ad campaign about the dangers of vaping. Just this Monday (September 16, 2019), California’s 40th Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to restraint youth vaping. The executive order also includes an initiative by the California Department of Public Health to increase enforcement on the sales of counterfeit vaping products.
Newsom’s executive order will make California the third state to take major action between youth vaping and rising health concerns. As said before, the city of San Francisco has already banned all e-cigarette sales; this includes sales made both online and in retail stores. Now, California is following New York and Michigan, which are also enacting their own legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
Just a week ago, on September 11, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated that the Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes nationwide and is also looking to issue new regulatory guidance over vapes in the near future. Azar also confirmed that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is very close from taking flavored e-cigarettes off the market entirely. But, despite all efforts made by all of these organizations, it’s still not clear when a nationwide ban on flavored e-cigarettes will go into effect.
While only seven people have died from lung-related illnesses caused by certain vaping products, the CDC confirmed that as of September 11 there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases, which consequently originated 36 more serious states of vaping-related diseases.
These recent cases have caused the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to activate their Emergency Operation Center (also known as EOC), which will help strength the response to the health threat. But there has also been a negative reaction from those who work in the vaping industry, arguing that vaping “has traditionally been safe”, while also stating that “it can even help people stop smoking”.
Authorities believe that certain vaping products — like THC-infused cartridges — can cause rapid and severe lung-related illnesses that ultimately lead to these deaths. People have been reporting symptoms that include shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain, nausea, fever, or vomiting.
The FDA is also investigating reports were the use of e-cigarettes could be related to seizures or other neurological symptoms. The agency is planning to implement new restrictions on flavored e-cigarettes and other forms of vaping, and will have those ordinances going into effect in 2021.