Vaping products, one of the fastest-growing segments of the legal cannabis industry, have taken a hit as public health experts scramble to determine what’s causing a mysterious and sometimes fatal lung disease among people who use e-cigarettes. (Sept. 26)
Kentucky has one confirmed case and three probable cases of the severe lung illness linked to vaping products that has spread nationally, state health officials said Friday.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services confirmed Friday that 20 cases of the vaping-related illness have been reported for investigation, with one case confirmed, three deemed probable and two ruled out.
A cabinet spokeswoman told The Courier Journal earlier in September that the health agency was investigating three cases and two probable cases of the illness.
The ruled-out cases either did not meet the “case definition” or had “a documented vaping history,” according to the cabinet.
Cabinet officials have not said where the local cases were reported and did not provide additional information on the affected individuals.
But WFPL reported earlier in September that a Louisville doctor said he has treated two patients who may be part of the vaping-related outbreak.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday the number of vaping-related lung injury cases around the country jumped to 805 and the number of deaths to 12, but the specific causes of the illnesses are still undetermined.
This week’s CDC report, from 46 states and one territory, was an increase from last week’s tally of 530 vaping-related lung cases and seven deaths.
“We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries,” the CDC said in a statement. “The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.”
But federal health officials have recommended that users with concerns about health risks should consider refraining from using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
The CDC said anyone using an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy any vaping products off the street or modify or add any substances to the products that are not intended by the manufacturer.
That warning came as most patients with the lung illness have said they used e-cigarettes with THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Many also said they were vaping nicotine, with or without THC.
A top public health official with the CDC told House lawmakers Tuesday that the number of vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. could soon climb much higher. (Sept. 24)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last week that it launched a criminal probe into the spike in vaping-related illnesses.
President Donald Trump and some states have advocated for banning or more strictly regulating flavored e-cigarettes, which health advocates say are popular among teens.
In Kentucky, a group of state lawmakers, public health officials and advocates will seek to tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as regular cigarettes in a 2020 bill.
But supporters of e-cigarettes say any bans and linking the industry to the illness are unfair because many of the cases have been connected to vaping marijuana or black-market oils that contain vitamin E.
Juul Labs, the vaping giant under fresh scrutiny by health advocates and federal regulators, replaced its CEO on Wednesday and announced it will suspend all TV, print and digital ads, along with some of its lobbying efforts.
People who experience issues with an e-cigarette or tobacco product can report them to the Food and Drug Administration at fda.gov/tobacco-products.
Reach Billy Kobin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-582-7030. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.
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