Health Officials Report Possible First Death Tied to Vaping

August 23, 2019 10:40 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Health officials say the number of illnesses reported in those who vape has grown to nearly 200 cases in the U.S.

On Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported one person who recently vaped died after being hospitalized with "severe respiratory illness." This comes as Iowa Health officials say four cases of respiratory illness have been confirmed in four young adults with a history of vaping.

“In the last two to three weeks, we have seen now a cluster of case reports concentrated in the Midwest it seems; Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota have all reported a number of cases showing serious lung injury to people who were vaping,” said Dr. Taylor Hayes, the Director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center. “What we don't know is 'Was vaping the cause?'”

Dr. Hayes calls vaping "a huge experiment on our children".

“We thought things were going the right direction; going down, but in 2018 the numbers of high schoolers and middle schoolers using vaping products went up dramatically,” he said. “We are now having millions - literally millions - of teenagers exposed to vaping products.”

On their website, JUUL Labs, Inc. claims the goal of their product is to "improve the lives of the world's one billion adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes".

However, experts like Dr. Hayes say their flavors target children. He adds e-cigarettes are highly addictive, saying one JUUL Pod, for instance, can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.

“When the liquid is heated to a high temperature, the chemicals that are breathed in can cause injury to the lung,” said Dr. Hayes. “It’s not just water vapor, it is the vaporization of several different chemicals. These recent case reports suggest there's a real short-term risk and what we are concerned about is if kids; young people use vaping products for a long time that they will be at risk for longer-term lung injury and lung disease.”

Dr. Hayes urges parents to find out if their children are vaping.

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