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What We Know About Vaping-Related Illnesses And How To Prevent Them

An employee vapes at a store in New York City.  Vaping, which many Americans have taken up as an alternative to smoking, has come under increased federal scrutiny following a rash of deaths related to the practice.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Lawmakers and private companies are beginning to address the spread of a mysterious vaping-related illness that has killed 12 people and afflicted over 800 more.

From The New York Times:

People with the illnesses become weak and short of breath. Many need supplemental oxygen and treatment in intensive care units, and in some the lung damage is so severe that they must be placed on ventilators to keep them alive while their lungs recover. In a few cases, lung function has been so poor that ventilators were not enough, and the patients also had to be connected to machines that pump oxygen directly into the bloodstream.

The medical community says it is working hard to ascertain the cause of these deaths, but lawmakers are already taking action to stop the spread of vaping.

Last week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared vaping a public health emergency, and he halted all sales of vaping products for the next four months.

Private companies are also taking steps to curb the practice. For example, Walmart has said it will halt sales of e-cigarettes.

What do we know about those who have died and become sick? Is there more guidance from medical professionals besides “don’t vape?”

We answer your questions.

Produced by Stacia Brown.


Sarah Owermohle, Drug and tobacco reporter, POLITICO; @owermohle

Clifford Mitchell, Director of the Environmental Health Bureau, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Tony Abboud, Executive Director, Vapor Technology Association; @VaporTechAssoc

Dr. Michael Siegel, Physician and professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health; @mbsiegel

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