The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the first known death caused by vaping, in a statement released over the weekend. The individual had recently utilized an e-cigarette and was hospitalized after developing complications from a severe respiratory illness.1
This event comes after the CDC launched an investigation earlier this month through the departments of health in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, Indiana, and Minnesota surrounding a cluster of pulmonary illnesses linked to e-cigarette product use among adolescents and young adults.2Between June and August alone, there were reportingly 94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping in 14 states, including 30 cases in Wisconsin.
“We are saddened to hear of the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in those who use e-cigarette or “vaping” devices,” said Robert R. Redfield, MD, director of the CDC in announcement on Friday.3“CDC’s investigation is ongoing. We are working with state and local health departments and FDA to learn the cause or causes of this ongoing outbreak.”
The number of people reported Indiana Department of Public Health who have used e-cigarettes or vaped and have been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms has doubled in the past week. A total of 22 people, ranging in age from 17 to 38 years, have experienced respiratory illness after using e-cigarettes or vaping. IDPH is working with local health departments to investigate another 12 individuals.
The IDPH is also working with local health departments, as well as other state health departments, and the FDA to investigate the names and types of e-cigarettes, vaping products, and devices, and where they were obtained.
“The severity of illness [that] people are experiencing is alarming and we must get the word out that using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” said IDPH director Ngozi Ezike, MD, in a statement.1“We requested a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help us investigate these cases and they arrived in Illinois on Tuesday.”
E-cigarettes or “vapes,” produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs, and bystanders can also breathe in this aerosol when the user exhales into the air, according to the CDC. E-cigarettes can also be used as carriers for marijuana or other drugs.4
“This tragic death in Illinois reinforces the serious risks associated with e-cigarette products. Vaping exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms — including flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids, and solvents,” continued Dr. Redfield. “CDC has been warning about the identified and potential dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping since these devices first appeared. E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”
According to the IDPH, those who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after using e-cigarettes or vaping in the weeks or months prior to these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Health care providers caring for patients with unexpected serious respiratory illness should ask about a history of vaping or e-cigarette use.
- Vaping Creates Nicotine Addiction in Children, Increases Risk of Tobacco Use
- Vaping and Nicotine Exposure
- Illinois Resident Experiencing Respiratory Illness After Vaping Dies. Springfield, Illinois. IDPH website. Published August 23, 2019.http://www.dph.illinois.gov/news/illinois-resident-experiencing-respiratory-illness-after-vaping-dies. Accessed August 26, 2019.
- CDC, states investigating severe pulmonary disease among people who use e-cigarettes [press release]. CDC website. Published August 17, 2019.https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0817-pulmonary-disease-ecigarettes.html. Accessed August 26, 2019.
- CDC Director’s Statement on the first death related to the outbreak of severe lung disease in people who use e-cigarette or “vaping” devices. CDC website.https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0823-vaping-related-death.html. Published August 26, 2019.
- Electronic Cigarettes — What’s the Bottom Line. CDC website.https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/pdfs/Electronic-Cigarettes-Infographic-p.pdf. Accessed August 26, 2019.