State officials are urging people to immediately stop using all vaping products after Oregon Health Authority confirmed a second vaping-related death in Oregon.
The death was the second among five previously reported illnesses, part of a nationwide outbreak of severe lung injuries reportedly linked to vaping and e-cigarette use. The first vaping fatality in the state was reported Sept. 3.
In both fatal cases, cannabis vaping products were purchased from licensed retail stores. State health officials said the most recent death was an individual who was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping cannabis products.
On Friday, Sept. 27, Oregon Health Authority recommended the governor act to ban vaping product sales for six months. The ban would include nicotine, tobacco and cannabis vape products sold in stores and online.
The moratorium on sales was one of six proposed by Oregon Health Authority after Gov. Kate Brown requested ideas from the state agency. Education campaigns aimed at quitting vaping, federal regulation, and more input from doctors and other experts were also suggested.
Oregon’s first victim died in July after battling lung failure for five weeks. That person reportedly vaped oils infused with THC that was purchased at two retail stores. Federal health officials say 13 people have died in 10 states from vaping-related illnesses.
“If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit,” state health officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger said. “These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit. If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.”
Brown is asking state attorneys to explore legal options including a temporary ban on all vaping products. The governor called on Oregon Health Authority to recommend steps for protecting the public. Brown has also urged Oregonians to stop vaping.
Vaping product sales in Oregon are plummeting according to cannabis industry research by New Frontier Data that showed a 62-percent downturn in September.
Nationally, there have been more than 800 cases of vaping-related illnesses reported in 46 states and one U.S. territory, primarily among youths and young adults. Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain.
A cause of the illnesses has not been determined, but all cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping. Investigators and local public health authorities continue to urge clinicians to be on alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among patients and report any cases.
Vaping product bans are also reportedly in the works in Washington, Michigan, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Federal officials have said cannabis vaping juice that was not purchased in stores was the most common factor in 514 severe lung injury cases recently analyzed.
State health officials are working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the cause of deaths and illnesses in Oregon and across the nation.
Before the new illness reports, Oregon Health Authority was already concerned about the health risks of vaping products. A recent report by the agency details the health risks for the products including nicotine addiction, exposure to toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and increases in blood pressure.
Individuals who have recently vaped and are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.