SALEM — A second Oregonian has died from a lung illness after vaping cannabis products, and state health authorities Thursday urged people to immediately stop using all vaping products.
“People should stop vaping immediately,” said Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state health officer. “If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit.”
Gov. Kate Brown said the Oregon Health Authority informed her of the death and that she is requesting the Oregon Department of Justice to advise what legal options are available to the state, including the temporary ban of all vaping products.
The most recent death was an individual who had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping cannabis products, the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement.
The other Oregon fatality, whose death was announced Sept. 3, had used e-cigarettes, or vape pens, with THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
Over the summer, health officials in a few states began noticing reports of people developing severe breathing illnesses, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance.
The only common factor in the illnesses was that the patients had recently vaped.
As a national investigation started and broadened, reports have increased dramatically.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 805 confirmed and probable cases of vaping-related breathing illness have been reported nationally, up 52% from the 530 reported a week ago.
At this point, illnesses have occurred in almost every state. Confirmed deaths include two in California, two in Kansas, two in Oregon and one each in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Missouri. The Mississippi death was announced by officials in that state Thursday.
Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain.
All cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping, the OHA said.
Oregon marijuana retailers Sept. 12 began removing vaping products from their shelves and offering returns on purchased vape pens.
People who have recently vaped and are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately, Oregon’s health authority said.
State Rep. Cheri Helt, a Republican from Bend, announced earlier Thursday that she would introduce legislation during the February 2020 legislative session to ban retail and online sales of all flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.
She also asked Brown to immediately issue a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products.
“Vaping is now a public health crisis, especially among teenagers,” Helt said.