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60 reported dead from vaping-related lung illness

Photo: Yui Mok - PA Images/Contributor/Getty Images

60 people have died from a lung injury associated with e-cigarette use in 27 states and the District of Columbia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as of Jan. 14.

What's new: 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.

By the numbers: Data as of Jan. 7 shows the median age of patients who died was 52 years old and the ages of those who died ranged from 17 to 75. The CDC maintains no single e-cigarette product or compound has been linked to the pulmonary illnesses.

  • 37% of the 19 who died reported use of nicotine-containing products.
  • 63% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.
  • 16% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.

The impact: The CDC and states' individual health departments have data on where the deaths occurred.

  • 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.
  • In New York, the first teenager died after being hospitalized twice in September with a vaping-related illness.
  • In Massachusetts, the death of a woman in her 60s was reported on Oct. 7 as the state's first vaping-related death. The state currently has a four-month ban on all vaping products, the harshest in the U.S.
  • In Georgia, a patient with a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no reported background of vaping THC, died, Georgia's Department of Health said.
  • A man and woman in Kansas, both over the age of 50 with "underlying health conditions," died from a pulmonary illness linked to vaping, according to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
  • A Missouri man in his mid-40s died from the illness, according to the state's Department of Health and Senior Services.

The big picture: The CDC reported 2,668 confirmed hospital cases of severe respiratory illnesses as of Jan. 14 among those who vaped nicotine or cannabis products in 50 states, D.C. and two U.S. territories.

  • The rate of reported cases each week has slowed considerably since August.

What they're saying: "It is possible that some of these cases were already occurring and we were not picking them up" prior to the agency's investigation into the illnesses, the director for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, said in August.

Of note: A woman filed the first wrongful death lawsuit against Juul in October, claiming the e-cigarette maker's nicotine cartridges were a significant factor in causing the death of her 18-year-old son over a year ago.

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