Reported Illness Among Vapers Reaches 150 Possible Cases

By Reuters
August 22, 2019Health
Reported Illness Among Vapers Reaches 150 Possible Cases
E-cigarettes are displayed at Gone With the Smoke Vapor Lounge in San Francisco on May 5, 2016. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—The CDC said on Wednesday, Aug. 21, it is investigating 153 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use in 15 states. No deaths have been reported so far, they said.

Officials on Wednesday, Aug. 21, said the Food and Drug Administration has joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and states investigating reports from the last two months.

All the illnesses were in teens or adults who had used an electronic cigarette or some other kind of vaping device.

Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far infectious diseases have been ruled out.

No single vaping product or compound has been linked to all of the cases, and officials said it’s not clear if there’s a common cause.

E-cigarette Firms Probed Over Health Concerns

Four dominant e-cigarette manufacturers face a probe into the health impacts of their products, as the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee asked on Wednesday about the firms’ research and marketing practices.

The committee sent letters to Juul Labs Inc, 35% owned by Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc, Fontem Ventures, Japan Tobacco Inc, and Reynolds American Inc, a unit of British American Tobacco Plc.

The letter to Juul asked if the company has conducted or financed studies on the health implications of using its products and the effectiveness of Juul in helping users quit smoking. It asked if Juul has sent information to the Food and Drug Administration.

Juul starter kits
Juul brand vaping pens are seen for sale in a shop in Manhattan in N.Y.C., N.Y., on Feb. 6, 2019. (Mike Segar/File Photo via Reuters)

Kaelan Hollon, a spokeswoman for Reynolds American, said the company is reviewing the letter and believes “minors should never use tobacco products, including vapor products.”

Japan Tobacco said in a statement it welcomes any opportunity to “set out the responsible approaches” it takes in its marketing.

The logo of Japan Tobacco
The logo of Japan Tobacco Inc. is seen at the comapany’s Kitakanto factory in Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, Japan on April 8, 2016. (Yuya Shino/Reuters)

Juul and Fontem Ventures did not respond to requests for comment.

The probe comes amid growing scrutiny of the e-cigarette industry by lawmakers. A separate House panel in July released internal Juul emails that committee staff described as attempts to “enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children.”

James Monsees, Juul’s co-founder and chief product officer, told the panel the company’s target audience is adult cigarette smokers.

Representative Frank Pallone, the Democratic chair of the committee, cited vaping-related lung illnesses recently reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He requested answers and documents by Sept. 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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