Massachusetts reports fourth vaping-related death

Massachusetts reports fourth vaping-related death
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Health officials in Massachusetts on Wednesday reported the state’s fourth death from a vaping-related illness.

According to state officials, the patient was a man in his 70s who reported vaping THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. 

The case is among the 36 confirmed cases of vaping-associated lung injury that the state health department has reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since Sept. 11, 2019.

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“Today’s news is a tragic reminder that we must remain vigilant about the dangers of vaping,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. “There are resources available to help people quit and we encourage anyone to use these resources.”

The death is the first reported since Gov. Charlie Baker (R) in November signed into law a sweeping ban on the sale of e-cigarettes. 

Massachusetts has reported 36 confirmed cases of vaping-related illness to the CDC, and 73 probable cases. The majority of confirmed and probable cases have involved vaping THC in some form, including six probable cases linked to state-regulated marijuana products.

As of Wednesday, of the 109 confirmed and probable cases, 40 percent said they vaped only THC, 35 percent said they vaped only nicotine, and 27 percent said they vaped both.

The CDC has identified vitamin E acetate, mostly found in illegal THC vaping products, as one of the main causes of the illness. However, Massachusetts officials said independent testing has not found any detectable levels of the chemical in products manufactured by licensed state facilities.

In November, the state reported the death of a man in his 50s who reported vaping both nicotine and THC. In October, the state reported the vaping-associated lung injury deaths of a woman in her 40s and a woman in her 60s, both of whom vaped nicotine.

Nationally, the number of deaths and injuries linked to a vaping disease have declined from their peak and appear to be leveling off. As of Dec. 31, there were 55 deaths confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia, the CDC said.

The agency said its data seemed to show that the outbreak began in June and peaked in September, when cases were skyrocketing each week.