Vaping Claims Its Youngest Victim Yet
Jan 10, 2020
Lung illnesses and deaths caused by vaping have declined since reaching a peak in September, but officials say the outbreak has now claimed its youngest victim.
A 15-year-old died in Texas, with “E-cigarette or Vaping-Associated Lung Injury” (Evali) identified as the cause, according to a statement from Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS).
“Reporting a death in a teen due to Evali is so tragic,” Dr. Philip Huang, the Dallas County health director, said in a statement. “We are seeing that severe lung damage, and even death, can occur with just short-term use of these products.”
The teen had “a chronic underlying medical condition,” but Dallas officials did not specify the nature of the condition, the patient’s gender or which vaping products they had been using, The New York Times reported.
The statement also indicated that as of Dec. 30 there have been 53 reports of hospitalizations due to vaping, including one teen who had been vaping just one month prior.
Nationally, there were 2,602 cases and 57 deaths as of Dec. 7.
The median age of those who died from vaping-related lung illness was 51, with the previous youngest death reported being a 17-year-old New York resident.
Though the stream of new hospitalizations and deaths is slowing, new cases are coming in every week and more deaths are being queried for possible links to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most of these medically serious cases came from people using marijuana-based vaping products that the CDC says contain a harmful additive called vitamin E acetate. Precisely how vitamin E acetate harms lungs has not been fully established.
Though much of the evidence points to marijuana, health officials say that does not mean nicotine vaping can be considered safe.
“While it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with Evali, there are many different substances and product sources that are being investigated, and there may be more than one cause,” the CDC says on its website. “There is no safe tobacco product. All tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, carry a risk.”