Oregon officials say deaths from lung illness may be linked to vaping

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Salem, O.R. (CBS/KOIN) — 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 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 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.

The Oregon Health Authority did not say the age or gender of the person who died.

Public health physician Ann Thomas said investigators don’t yet know whether the illnesses are caused by contaminants, ingredients in the liquid or something such as the device itself. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended that people who vape consider avoiding e-cigarettes while they investigate.

The death comes less than two weeks after Illinois health officials said that a patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping died, which may have marked the first death in the U.S. linked to the smoking alternative.

Sickened individuals experienced symptoms including shortness of breath, cough and chest pain.

Last week, an 18-year-old told CBS News that his lung collapsed after vaping. Chance Ammirata, who had never been a traditional smoker, said he started using Juul e-cigarettes a year and a half ago, when he was 16. He now believes Juuls caused his lung injury.

In an exclusive interview with “CBS This Morning’s” Tony Dokoupil, Juul CEO Kevin Burns said the company never intended for Juul to be used by kids or teenagers.

“As a parent of a 16-year-old, 19-year-old, I don’t want my kids using the product. It’s not intended for them,” Burns said.  

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