Vaping Death Toll Climbs as Kansas Man Becomes Ninth E-Cigarette Fatality

September 24, 2019 Updated: September 24, 2019

The second person to suffer a vaping-related death in Kansas brings the national total to nine people who have died as an outbreak of mysterious lung diseases linked to e-cigarettes grips the country.

The victim, who has not been named, was over 50 and had underlying health conditions, according to a statement from Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.

“Today, I am saddened to announce the death of a second Kansan in association with this outbreak,” Governor Kelly said, adding that officials in Kansas are coordinating fact-finding efforts with other states to determine the link between vaping and this type of illness.

“Dr. Lee Norman and his team with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working tirelessly with other states and organizations to gather facts on e-cigarettes and its effects,” she said. “We are coordinating a response to combat this epidemic, so that families can avoid such tragic outcomes.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released interim recommendations for healthcare providers, health departments, and the public, but the organization has not yet determined the cause of vaping-related lung damage.

“We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries,” the CDC said. “The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.”

Vaping E-cigarette devices
Vaping devices in a file photograph. (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

Officials at the CDC urged anyone worried about health consequences from consuming e-cigarettes to discontinue their use.

“Until we know more, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, CDC recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products. If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.”

Nine people so far have died in the United States from conditions linked to vaping, the CDC said: two in California, two in Kansas, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon. The CDC added that the deaths noted are out of 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes, current as of Sept. 17, 2019.

The CDC has received complete sex and age data on 373 of the 530 cases, and 72 percent are male, with 67 percent of the victims ranging from 18 to 34 years old.

Vaping Marijuana Youth
A woman vapes in a file photograph. (Steven Senne, File/AP Photo)

The organization also noted that youth and young adults shouldn’t use e-cigarettes, pregnant women shouldn’t use them, and adults who don’t use tobacco products shouldn’t use them.

“You should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer,” the agency also warned. Some people have attempted to vape marijuana-related products, such as THC.

“If you do use e-cigarette products, you should not buy these products off the street (for example, e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids),” the CDC said.

Meanwhile, people who are trying to quit smoking cigarettes should use alternative treatments, the CDC noted.

“E-cigarettes are unregulated, which means that we don’t know what’s in them,” Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement. “And, of great concern to me, is that in the midst of all these illnesses being reported, the amount of young people using them is significant.”

Federal authorities have proposed banning the sale of e-cigarettes if they can’t be marketed safely.

“In line with concerns on marketing, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday, Sept. 20, issued a proposed rule that would allow e-cigarette products to be sold only after they’ve shown they may be marketed in a way that best protects public health,” Governor Kelly’s press release stated.

“Until these rules and regulations go into effect, education is our best defense,” Dr. Norman said.

“Talk to your kids. Talk to your grandkids,” he said. “Keep talking about these issues.”

California Governor Signs Order to Combat Youth Vaping

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Sept. 16 aimed to combat the use of e-cigarettes among the state’s youth, as nearly 400 people have been stricken with a lung illness potentially related to vaping.

The order directs the Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch a $20 million statewide digital and social media public awareness campaign with the goals of educating youth and parents about the health risk of vaping nicotine and cannabis products, according to Newsom’s office.

The announcement came just a day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a similar emergency executive action that would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York state.

Newsom’s office said the CDPH will also develop recommendations aimed to reduce smoking among youth and to create “warning signs with health risks where vaping products are sold and on product advertisements.”

The order will also increase enforcement around e-cigarettes with the Department of Tax and Fee Administration tasked with developing recommendations to remove illegal or counterfeit vaping products from stores, among other plans.

Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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