Vaping Death Toll Rises To Nine

By Kelly Burch 09/25/19

The Kansas resident, who was a new e-cigarette user, had an underlying health condition. 

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A second Kansas resident has died from a vaping-related illness, bringing the national death toll to at least nine as of Wednesday (Sept. 25). 

The most recent victim was a man older than 50. He had an underlying health condition, according to information provided by the state’s Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). 

“Today, I am saddened to announce the death of a second Kansan in association with this outbreak,” Governor Laura Kelly said in a news release. “Dr. Lee Norman and his team with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working tirelessly with other states and organizations to gather facts on e-cigarettes and its effects. We are coordinating a response to combat this epidemic, so that families can avoid such tragic outcomes.”

New Users Are Affected Too

The man was reportedly a new vape pen user. 

“The patient had recently begun using e-cigarettes prior to hospitalization,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Farah Ahmed.

The information on vaping-related illness in Kansas shows how widespread the issue is. The other death in the state was of a woman, also over 50, who also had underlying health issues.

However, of the nine confirmed cases of vape-related deaths in the country, the victims have ranged in age from 17-67. They’ve included five men and four women. The products linked to the illnesses have contained tobacco, THC, CBD or a combination of these. 

“E-cigarettes are unregulated, which means that we don’t know what’s in them,” said Norman, the secretary of KDHE. “And, of great concern to me, is that in the midst of all these illnesses being reported, the amount of young people using them is significant.”

Youth Vaping Epidemic

Parents must be aware that even though their children aren’t smoking traditional cigarettes, they could be vaping, officials say.  

“Most teens who vape have never smoked cigarettes. Vaping is how they are initiating inhaling things into their lungs. We must work diligently and swiftly in addressing this public health crisis,” Norman said. 

The state reports that 10.6% of high schoolers and 4.6% of adults use vaping products. All of them could be at risk, since it’s unknown what is causing vape-related illnesses. 

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is urging people to stop vaping while this national investigation is underway,” said Ahmed.

Norman said it’s important that everyone be aware of the risks of vaping, especially while vape pens remain widely available. 

“Until [new] rules and regulations go into effect, education is our best defense,” he said. “Talk to your kids. Talk to your grandkids. Keep talking about these issues.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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