A 17-year-old boy from the Bronx died of vaping-related illness, becoming the New York’s first fatality, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
He announced the death following an unrelated news conference, according to the Albany Times Union.
The US vaping crisis has now claimed 22 lives across 19 states.
Some 110 people in New York have vaping-related illnesses but the boy, who was treated at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, according to the New York Post, was the first to die in the state.
Of those, 21 are in New York City, according to the state’s health department.
New York is the latest state to confirm a death from vaping-related illness, bringing the national total to 22 in 19 states (red). Another 1,080 people have severe lung damage
Deaths have also been reported in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, with two deaths in each California, Kansas and Oregon.
As of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) October 1 figures, over 1,000 people in the US were suffering from the mysterious lung damage.
Massachusetts has enforced the strictest temporary ban on e-cigarettes, blocking all sales of the devices, while states like New York and Michigan have banned only flavored e-cigarettes.
US health officials are still uncertain what exactly is causing the new disease, but have urged Americans to stay away from THC and marijuana vapes, many of which are bootleg and have been linked to over three quarters of the reported illnesses.
Recent research has suggest that it may be ‘toxic fumes’ in the e-liquid juices that sickening people, rather than a result of oils in them getting into the lungs, as previously believed.
E-cigarettes have been billed as safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes and some studies have found they contain fewer carcinogens.
But a study published Monday found that nicotine e-cigarette vapor does cause lung cancer in mice, when they are exposed to it in high doses over a year.
Although the clearest links continue to be be to black market and THC e-cigarettes, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration say that cases are not limited to these products.
Last week, for the first time, health officials are urged all Americans to ‘refrain from vaping,’ they they said in a Thursday telebriefing that they do not want former smokers who now vape to return to combustible cigarettes.
‘The number of confirmed and probable cases of vaping-associated lung injury we’re seeing continues to escalate and today I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of a patient who had this illness,’ said Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Monica Bharel.
‘We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak.’
Some 80 percent of the sick Americans are under the age of 35, and 16 percent are teenagers 18 or under.
State vaping bans like Massachusetts’s have been enacted in the hopes of not only stemming the vaping deaths and illnesses, but of dissuading teenagers from using and becoming addicted to the devices, particularly the sweet flavored ones.
Outraged vape shop owners have banded together and attempted to block the Massachusetts ban in court, but
‘We really don’t think using those products is safe right now,’ said CDC Principal Deputy Director, Dr Ann Schuchat, during last week’s telebriefing.
She and FDA officials on the call said they think it’s unlikely that the epidemic of lung illnesses and deaths has even reached its peak, nor is it declining.
‘And in case it’s going up, we want to intensify our warning,’ they said.
‘This is a very concerning outbreak and very difficult to control.’
Although 78 percent of the cases reported were among patients who had used THC – 37 percent said they had only used THC – health officials are not yet ready to rule out nicotine e-cigarettes as a possible cause of severe lung damage.
Nearly 60 percent of the 570 patients officials have collected data on said they’d used nicotine e-cigarettes, and 17 percent said they had only used nicotine.
‘I wish we had more answers about the specific products causing these illnesses,’ said Dr Schuchat.
‘We’re not optimistic that tomorrow we’re going to be able to pull all those [products that are] risky from the market,’ added an FDA deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, Judy McMeekin.