Alaska reports first vaping-related injury

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An Alaska teen has been hospitalized for a vaping-related injury, making Alaska the final state in the U.S. to report such an incident in the growing national epidemic.

The state’s Department of Health and Social Services announced on Wednesday that the teen from Southeast Alaska is hospitalized and improving. The patient reported regularly vaping nicotine and THC products, it said. 

The department added that it had investigated nine suspected cases of vaping-related injuries over the past several months but said this is the first that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements to be classified as such a case. 

“Our thoughts are with the patient and family members and we are thankful the patient is steadily recovering,” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. 

“We are fortunate that we haven’t identified a case … in Alaska until now, but it’s not surprising that we have joined the rest of the nation in this outbreak,” she added. 

Zink said the case “heightens our concerns” about Alaskans who continue to use vaping products. 

“The safest option is not to vape,” she said. 

The CDC identified 2,290 cases of vaping-related injuries and 47 deaths as of Nov. 20. 

Several states have banned flavored vaping products in recent months in an effort to curb young users.

The Trump administration also announced a national proposal to remove flavored products from the market in September. 

But lawmakers have accused the White House of stalling on the proposal and have asked for a status update. 

The House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy is holding a hearing Wednesday to question Mitch Zeller, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, on the proposal. Senators similarly pressed Zeller on the issue last month. 

White House spokesman Judd Deere said Tuesday that the proposal has not been stalled or abandoned.

“The Administration continues to move forward on development of responsible guidelines that protect the public health and the American people,” Deer said in an emailed statement. 

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