Pennsylvania reports 1st death, multiple illnesses related to vaping; urges people to stop

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania is reporting its first death attributed to lung injuries associated with vaping, and state health officials are recommending that people do not vape.

The state has reported nine confirmed and 12 probable cases of the lung illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is investigating an additional 63 cases, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Friday.

“The lung injury cases are very serious, life-threatening and even fatal,” Levine said. “We do not yet know what is making people sick, and whether the illnesses are related to products being used, or potentially the delivery of those products.”

“I strongly urge everyone who is vaping illegally bought products, in particular those with THC, to stop. In addition, there could be possible risks with legally purchased products. We want to warn people that investigations are ongoing and we advise they use extreme caution before using any vaping product at this time,” Levine added.

Each of the people involved in the Pennsylvania cases has suffered serious lung injuries and most have been hospitalized.

“If you are vaping, whether as part of the medical marijuana program or not, it is essential that you have an honest conversation with your physician about the potential risk for serious illness,” Levine said. “For those who are part of the medical marijuana program and have concerns, we encourage you to talk to your physician or the pharmacist at the dispensary.

Levine said she supports legislation that would allow Gov. Tom Wolf to declare a public health emergency, which would give the department more tools to address the problem. She also supports proposals to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products to 21. ​

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