Updated Feb 11, 2020 - Health

CDC confirms 2,758 hospital cases of lung injury linked to vaping

Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

There are 2,758 confirmed hospital cases of lung injury associated with vaping in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. territories, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as of Feb 4.

The big picture: Nationally, most vaping-related patients with data on how they sourced products reported obtaining THC-containing products from "informal sources," per the CDC. The agency now recommends users should consider no longer vaping THC products, rather than its original claim to refrain from e-cigarettes.

Based on several studies, federal health officials have found vitamin E acetate in a sample of illicit products in select states. The additive also caused lung fluid in 48 patients out of 51 diagnosed with the vaping illness.

  • Patients ages 13 to 17 were more likely to get both THC and nicotine-containing products from informal sources than from adults.
  • Dank Vapes, "a class of largely counterfeit THC-containing products of unknown origin, was the most commonly reported product brand used by patients nationwide," per the CDC, used by 56% of hospitalized.

By the numbers: The CDC confirmed the death toll has reached 64 people in 28 states and D.C., as of Feb. 4.

  • The influx of cases has slowed considerably since August. But the agency said the decline was due in part to a reporting lag in early December.

Additional lab tests for 1,782 hospitalized patients have taken place relating to a variety of vape products used, per CDC figures as of Dec. 17. Based on data released Dec. 3, the majority of people with the pulmonary illness (EVALI) are young males:

  • 78% are under the age of 35, and 67% are males.
  • About 80% reported using products containing THC, 35% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products and 54% reported use of products with nicotine.

The impact: The Food and Drug Administration has banned fruit and mint-flavored vaping cartridges like the pods made by Juul, but with exemptions for tobacco and menthol as an attempt to curb teen vaping.

  • The California State Senate proposed a ban on all flavored vaping products on Monday, days after the Trump administration unveiled a limited ban on most flavors in cartridge systems.
  • Massachusetts passed the toughest ban on flavored tobacco and vaping products in the country, proposing a 75% excise tax on vaping products and requiring health insurers to cover tobacco cessation counseling, AP reports.
  • Several states and certain cities, including Juul's home city San Francisco, have issued permanent or temporary bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
  • The U.S. Army treated two active-duty soldiers for vaping-related lung illness. Most of the military has banned e-cigarette sales at base exchanges, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit announced in mid-November that a 17-year-old boy faced "imminent death" from vaping injuries unless he underwent a double lung transplant. It was the first transplant performed on a patient with the vaping-related illness.

Meanwhile, California, New York and most recently Minnesota sued Juul for marketing products to youths.

  • A former Juul executive alleged in a lawsuit that it sent to market at least "one million mint-flavored e-cigarette nicotine pods that it admits were contaminated." A Juul spokesperson told Axios the company denies the claims and is contesting the suit.
  • Schools across the country are also going after Juul with lawsuits, alleging the manufacturer put a major burden on institutions for wooing kids to vape their products, NPR reports.
  • Juul has not been connected to the illnesses, but the company owns a large portion of the e-cigarette market share.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest details. Check back for more.

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