Federal agencies today urged people to consider stopping their use of vaping products and responded to criticism from state officials by promising to share more details about a spate of mysterious lung illnesses that has grown to at least 215 cases.
The CDC and FDA said people in at least 25 states had the serious respiratory illnesses linked to vaping, with many of the cases related to marijuana products. They said many more cases — one report gave a total of 179 — were under investigation.
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There does not appear to be a single product involved in all of the cases, but many of the patients reported through Aug. 27 said they vaped THC or cannabinoids like CBD, the agencies said in a news release. Expressing growing concern about the outbreak, the agencies said they were “working tirelessly” to investigate the illnesses, which resulted in at least one death, in Illinois.
States are completing their own investigations and verifying cases based on standards CDC recently issued, the agency said. Some state officials have expressed frustration with federal planning and communication around the outbreak, which began with cases reported in late June.
“HHS and the Trump Administration are using every tool we have to get to the bottom of this deeply concerning outbreak of illnesses in Americans who use e-cigarettes,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a release. “More broadly, we will continue using every regulatory and enforcement power we have to stop the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.”
The CDC issued a health alert that warned against buying e-cigarette products off the street or modifying them to add other substances. POLITICO reported earlier this week that the agency was mulling the alert as state officials pressed for action.
Youths should not use e-cigarettes and adults should “consider refraining from using e-cigarette products,” according to the alert, which also urged clinicians to look for signs of pulmonary disease in any patient who had used vapes within the last 90 days.
The advisory should serve as a warning to everyone using e-cigarettes, especially teens and young adults, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said in a release. He has asked the CDC and FDA to brief him on the outbreak and asked five popular e-cigarette brands this month to provide details on their products’ marketing and safety.