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5 deaths and over 450 severe illnesses associated with e-cigarette use

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The CDC reports they, along with several states and federal partners, are investigating a multi-state outbreak of severe pulmonary disease associated with using e-cigarette products. The investigation is ongoing and has not identified a cause, but all reported cases have indicated use of e-cigarette products.

As of today, September 9th, more than 450 possible cases of acute lung illness potentially associated with e-cigarette use, also referred to as vaping, were reported from 33 states (Washington is not one of the states) in recent months according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Five deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.

Today, the American Medical Association urged Americans to stop vaping in response to these findings. According to their statement,

“The e-cigarette-related lung illnesses currently sweeping across the country reaffirm our belief that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping is an urgent public health epidemic that must be addressed. We must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated. We urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market. We also call on the FDA to immediately ban flavors, as well as marketing practices, that enhance the appeal of e-cigarette products to youth.”

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Based on reports, the patients experienced coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss according to the CDC. Some have symptoms that developed over a few days, while others’ symptoms developed over several weeks. Fever, elevated heart rate and elevated white blood cell count have been reported even though no infectious disease has been identified. Many patients sought medical care in walk-in clinics, sometimes over several visits, before they were admitted to the hospital.

The CDC says their investigation has not identified any specific substance or e-cigarette product that can be linked to all cases.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to manufacturer JUUL for making unsubstantiated claims of being “much safer than cigarettes,” “totally safe” and asserting the “FDA would approve it any day.” According an FDA announcement, The agency sent the letter to express concern and request more information about several issues raised in a recent Congressional hearing regarding JUUL’s outreach and marketing practices, including those targeted at students, tribes, health insurers and employers.

Recently, San Francisco issued a ban on all non-FDA approved e-cigarette products, Michigan issued a ban on e-cigarettes in general and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a state-wide ban on all flavored e-cigarette products today.

The CDC advises anyone who does use e-cigarette products and experience symptoms like those reported, seek medical care promptly.

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