Two more people have died from severe lung illnesses linked to vaping, bringing the total number of deaths in the U.S. to 11.
Georgia health officials reported the first death in the state from a vaping-related illness on Wednesday.
Officials said the person who died had ‘a history of heavy nicotine vaping,’ and did not vape THC.
Later on Wednesday, Florida also reported the first death from a vaping-related illness in the state.
The previous nine deaths occurred in Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, California, Illinois and Oregon.
Two more people have died from a severe lung illness linked to vaping, bringing the total number of deaths in the U.S. to 11. The 10th victim was in Georgia and the 11th was in Florida
The Centers for Disease Control is currently investigating 530 reported cases of severe lung illness related to vaping as of Thursday.
The agency said that it still does not know what in e-cigarettes is causing the health problems, but that the cases have occurred in people using nicotine-based e-cigarettes and THC e-cigarettes.
While the Georgia patient had a history of heavy e-cigarette use, doctors said the patient didn’t vape THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
No information regarding the individual who died in Florida has been made available by the Florida Department of Health.
Out of the 530 cases, the CDC has analyzed 373 and determined that that two-thirds of people with severe lung illnesses, or 67 percent are 18 to 34 years old, and 16 percent are under 18. The majority, 72 percent, are male.
The CDC said symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These worsen over time.
Nationwide, more than 500 cases of respiratory illness have been linked to vaping. Juul is a the maker of some of the popular e-cigarettes and has come under fire from health officials
At the business end of things, Altria and Philip Morris International said Wednesday that they were calling off merger talks a month after floating a deal that would have created the world’s largest tobacco company.
The makers of Marlboro cigarettes said last month that they were in discussions to become a single company, more than a decade after splitting into two as lawsuits mounted.
Altria has exclusively sold Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco brands in the US, while Philip Morris has handled international sales.
Philip Morris International Inc CEO André Calantzopoulos said Wednesday that the companies will instead focus on launching IQOS in the US.
IQOS is a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative made by Philip Morris.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of e-cigarette maker Juul stepped down on Wednesday.
Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns (left) has resigned amid safety concerns over the e-cigarettes. He will be replaced by former Altria executive K.C. Crosthwaite (right), Juul announced Wednesday
Juul CEO Kevin Burns will be replaced by KC Crosthwaite, himself a top Altria executive.
In a statement, Crosthwaite said he envisioned a future in line with the company’s founding mission to allow adult smokers to choose alternatives to tobacco.
‘Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry,’ he said.
Under Burns, Juul expanded to 20 countries, forging a global business out of a start-up, the company said.
Last month, Burns said the 200 lung illnesses linked to vaping were ‘worrisome’
However, he still defended his product and said Juul is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is investigating the illnesses
Juul says it has stopped store sales of products with flavors other than tobacco and menthol, ended promotions on Facebook and Instagram and enhanced online age verification while pushing for stronger rules to keep its products out of children’s hands.
Altria and Philip Morris International said Wednesday that they were calling off merger talks
On the health front, doctors say people who vape and develop breathing problems or any of these symptoms should seek medical care.
‘Any tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe, especially for youth,’ CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement. ‘Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.
We must do everything we can to reduce the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students to protect them from immediate lung injury and a lifetime of nicotine addiction.’
The agency says no specific e-cigarette device or substance has been linked to all cases.
HOW VAPING CAN HARM THE BODY
The flavorings in e-cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way as heart disease, according to a study published in June.
The chemicals used to give the vapor flavors, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, can cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
They cause the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, the study by Boston University found.
Other recent studies have also suggested smoking e-cigarettes could cause DNA mutations which lead to cancer, and enable pneumonia-causing bacteria to stick to the lungs easier.
Researchers at New York University subjected human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor, which is marketed as being healthier than tobacco.
They found the cells mutated and became cancerous much faster than expected and mice exposed to the vapor also suffered significant DNA damage.
Most patients have reported a history of using vaping products containing THC.
Many also reporting using both THC and nicotine, and some have only used nicotine products.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has announced plans to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes, and several states have enacted legislation restricting sales.
State and federal officials have taken steps to pull flavored e-cigarette pods off store shelves amid an alarming spike in teen use and the recent spate of deaths.
Michigan, New York and Rhode Island banned vaping flavors this month, while Massachusetts said it will stop sales of all vaping products for four months, the first such step in the country.
Massachusetts said it ‘will work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents,’ Governor Charlie Baker said.
The Massachusetts ban is the most restrictive. New York and Michigan have also said they will stop sales of flavored e-cigarettes.
The city of San Francisco also said in June that they will ban all e-cigarette sales.
Georgia’s health department said, regarding the death, ‘the victim is older’ and had a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no history of vaping THC, the active ingredient in marijuana
TIMELINE OF THE ELEVEN VAPING DEATHS IN THE US
An Illinois man said to be using e-cigarettes to smoke THC died on August 24 after his lungs failed when he developed a mystery lung illness.
The second person to die after vaping was a ‘middle-aged’ Oregon resident.
They were said to have recently started using an e-cigarette containing cannabis oil from a legal dispensary and passed away sometime at the end of August.
A third victim in Indiana passed away from the mysterious lung disease in August.
The patient was described only as ‘elderly’ and little else is known about them.
The fourth victim, a 65-year-old man, died sometime in August but his death wasn’t confirmed until September 6.
Minnesota officials said the patient had been using the electronic devices to smoke THC.
A 55-year-old man from Los Angeles was the fifth person to lose his life after smoking the e-cigarettes. He died on September 7.
A woman in her fifties was the sixth person to succumb to vaping-related illnesses.
The Kansas-born woman, who had a history of health problems, passed away on September 12.
A California man became the seventh person to pass away after using the devices. The 40-year-old from Tulare County died on September 17.
The Missouri man in his forties became the eighth victim to die from vaping.
He had normal lung function until he started using the devices in May.
The victim began experiencing trouble breathing which gradually got worse before he was taken to hospital in St Louis on August 22. He passed away on September 19.
A man in his fifties became the second Kansas resident to die to the vaping-related illness.
He was said to be a regular vaper who had ‘underlying health issues’. He passed on September 24.
Georgia identified the state’s first death from a vaping-associated illness.
The patient had a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no reported history of vaping THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
No information regarding the individual who died in Florida has been made available by the Florida Department of Health