Vaping-Related Lung Illnesses Soar to 805 as Death Toll Hits 12

The CDC announced that they are investigating 805 cases of severe lung illness just hours after Mississippi confirmed the 12th death in the U.S.

Woman smoking electronic cigarette outdoor
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Cases of severe lung illnesses related to vaping have soared to 805, the Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday.

The new total, up from 530 just a week earlier, now includes reports from 46 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 805 cases include people who used THC e-cigarettes and nicotine-based e-cigarettes.

The report comes just hours after Mississippi health officials announced the first death in the state related to vaping, bringing the U.S. death total to 12.

Mississippi health officials said the person was under 30 years old.

“Any death related to vaping is one too many, and this is entirely preventable,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in a statement on Thursday morning. “We grieve with the family over this loss, and our hopes are that this helps emphasize how serious the dangers of vaping can be.”

Just one day earlier, health officials in Florida and Georgia both reported the first deaths in their states from the vaping-related illness.

Georgia officials said the person who died had “a history of heavy nicotine vaping,” and did not vape THC. Florida officials did not share additional information on the death in their state.

The previous nine deaths occurred in Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, California, Illinois and Oregon.

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The CDC did not release additional information beyond the new numbers. The agency said during their Sept. 19 update that they still do not know what in e-cigarettes is causing the health problems, and they advised Americans to stop vaping as their investigation continues.

Of the 805 cases, the CDC has closely analyzed 373 and determined that that two-thirds of people with severe lung illnesses, or 67 percent, are 18 to 34 years old, and 16 percent are under 18. The majority, 72 percent, are male.

The CDC said that stopping teen e-cigarette use is one of their priorities.

“Any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, especially for youth,” CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement. “Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain. We must do everything we can to reduce the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students to protect them from immediate lung injury and a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has announced plans to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes, and several states have enacted legislation restricting sales. Massachusetts announced Tuesday that it will prohibit sales of all e-cigarettes for four months and will “work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents,” Governor Charlie Baker said.

Massachusetts’ ban is the most restrictive, though New York and Michigan are also taking steps to reduce e-cigarette use. Both states announced earlier this month that they will stop sales of flavored e-cigarettes. The city of San Francisco also said in June that they will ban all e-cigarette sales.

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