Doug Stanglin USA TODAY
Published 5:54 PM EDT Sep 12, 2019
A 50-year-old Kansan became the sixth person in the USA to die of a vaping-related lung illness, an outbreak that has ramped up health concerns nationwide and prompted President Donald Trump to call for a ban on thousands of e-cigarette flavors Wednesday.
Five previous vaping-related deaths were confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon. After the Kansas fatality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied six deaths and more than 450 possible cases of severe lung injury in 33 states and one jurisdiction.
Trump held a policy discussion on vaping Wednesday and said afterward that he will seek to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored products in an effort to get young people to give up e-cigarettes.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration will soon issue guidance on how to take flavored vaping products off the market, a process that could take months.
It’s unclear whether vaping companies could take legal action to block a ban.
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Kansas State Epidemiologist Farah Ahmed said in a statement that the unidentified patient had a history of underlying health issues and had been hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly.
The fatality was the first in Kansas associated with an outbreak of serious lung disease related to vaping or using e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.
Kansas health officials noted six more cases associated with the outbreak – three patients classified as confirmed or probable cases and three cases under investigation.
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“It is time to stop vaping,” said Lee Norman, Kansas state health officer and secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The CDC confirmed that investigators narrowed their focus and that the additive vitamin E acetate is a chemical involved in many of the cases, but officials emphasized it is not in all of the cases being reviewed.
Vitamin E acetate is a “sticky greasy oil” that some marijuana includes, said Devin Alvarez, CEO and founder of Straight Hemp CBD products. “Not all oils are the same. Thick and greasy seem to be the culprits.”
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While investigations into these cases continue, the CDC recommends that people avoid vaping or using e-cigarettes.
People with a history of vaping who experience lung injury symptoms should seek medical care, according to Kansas health officials.
Nationally, symptoms include shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.
Other symptoms reported by some patients include headache, dizziness and chest pain.
Contributing: Jayne O’Donnell