The General Assembly in Massachusetts and the city council in New York City recently voted to ban flavored vaping products. Thinkstock
Vaping is proliferating in Connecticut schools
Connecticut health officials on Thursday reported the first death from a vaping-related illness in the state. Wikimedia

A person between the ages of 30 and 39 is the first to die in Connecticut of a mysterious lung disease linked to vaping, state public health officials said Thursday.

In addition, the number of vaping-related illnesses here has reached 25, seven more than the last time state leaders provided data less than a week ago.

The first fatality in Connecticut happened last week. Health officials said the person, whose name was withheld, had been hospitalized for multiple medical conditions.

“Sadly, one of our residents with vaping-related lung injury has died,” Public Health Commissioner Renée Coleman-Mitchell said. “Our prayers go out to the family. We are working with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] along with health departments across the country to find out what the specific causes of these injuries are to educate the public by providing the information needed to mitigate the risk of illness and death.”

Nationally, at least 19 deaths have been reported across 16 states. Along with Connecticut, deaths have occurred in Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia.

More than 1,000 cases of the disease have been logged in 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

No single product or device has been linked to all of the cases, but all patients said they have a history of vaping. Many have reported using vaping products with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana, according to the CDC. State and federal health agencies are investigating. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has opened a criminal probe into the disease.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, fatigue, fever and abdominal pain.

Although the Trump administration pledged to outlaw flavored vaping products that are a draw for teens and young adults, lawmakers in Connecticut already are planning to introduce a prohibition at the state level should the federal effort stall.

Members of the legislature’s Public Health Committee have vowed to introduce a bill when the regular session begins in February.

In the meantime, Gov. Ned Lamont said that while he may not have the authority to impose a ban on flavored e-cigarettes by executive order, he might ask lawmakers to tackle it during a special session this fall.

Lamont is also exploring a prohibition on flavored vaping products as part of a multi-state effort to regulate e-cigarettes and recreational marijuana use. Governors in other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Michigan, have temporarily outlawed flavored vaping merchandise.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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