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Second U.S. death linked to vaping, officials say

ABOVE: How safe are e-cigarettes?

Oregon health officials say they are investigating the death of a person who had severe respiratory illness after using an e-cigarette.

Investigators at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division said Tuesday that they received reports that the person who died in July had recently used a vaping device containing cannabis bought from an Oregon store.

Officials say the person’s symptoms were consistent with those of over 200 similar cases affecting teens and adults in at least 25 states. Last week, a death in Illinois was also linked to vaping.

READ MORE: Respiratory illness related to vaping claims first life in U.S.; Canadian health officials watching situation closely

Public health physician Ann Thomas says investigators don’t yet know whether the illnesses are caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something such as the device itself.

WATCH: American dies after respiratory illness linked to vaping

American dies after respiratory illness linked to vaping
American dies after respiratory illness linked to vaping

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday they are looking at 215 possible cases across 25 states. All the cases involve teens or adults who have used e-cigarettes or other vaping devices. Symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

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The CDC and Food and Drug Administration warned the public not to buy vaping products off the street. And officials recommended people concerned about the health risks “consider refraining from using e-cigarette products.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement the government is “using every tool we have to get to the bottom of this deeply concerning outbreak.”

READ MORE: Nearly 1 in 4 teens have tried vaping — Here’s how parents can talk about it

E-cigarettes generally heat a flavoured nicotine solution into an inhalable aerosol. The products have been used in the U.S. for more than a decade and are generally considered safer than traditional cigarettes because they don’t create all the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco.

But some vaping products have been found to contain other potentially harmful substances, including flavouring chemicals and oils used for vaping marijuana, experts say.

 

The mysterious illness underscores the complicated nature of the vaping market, which includes both government-regulated nicotine products and THC-based vape pens, which are considered illegal under federal law.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for recreational use. THC-based products in these regulated markets are generally inspected for quality and safety, but there is a largely unregulated gray market.

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On Thursday, top health officials in the Trump administration reiterated warnings against marijuana use by adolescents and pregnant women, emphasizing the increasing potency of the drug.