More than 2,000 people report mysterious vaping illness

Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

There are 2,172 confirmed and probable cases of lung injury in 49 states, and 42 deaths associated with e-cigarette use as of Nov. 13, the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

The big picture: Some progress has been made in uncovering a correlation between vaping and the respiratory illnesses. Federal health officials have found vitamin E acetate in the lung fluids of 29 patients diagnosed with the vaping-related illness.

By the numbers: Additional patient lab tests have occurred related to a variety of vape products used. Based on the latest data from late October, the majority of the people with the pulmonary illness are young males:

  • 79% are under the age of 35 and 70% are males.
  • About 86% reported using products containing THC, and 64% reported use of products with nicotine.

The impact: 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, 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.

  • As the Trump administration works to finalize a ban on almost all flavored vaping products, with exemptions only for tobacco and menthol flavors, middle school and high school students are vaping mint or menthol flavors almost as much as fruit-flavored e-cigarette products, an early November investigation by JAMA shows.

Individual communities and states are cracking down on vaping products with a variety of proposals and bans. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) declared a statewide public health emergency in September and called for a four-month ban on all vaping products, the harshest measure in the country so far.

  • San Francisco, home to Juul, overwhelmingly voted in early November against a ballot measure that would have reversed a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes.
  • Los Angeles County also banned 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.
  • 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 it owns a large portion of the e-cigarette market share.

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