The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported the state’s first death from a vaping-associated lung injury to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
The deceased, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, was among the 121 suspected cases that have been reported to DPH since Sept. 11, when Massachusetts began mandating that clinicians immediately report any unexplained vaping-associated lung injury to the department.
Of the 121 suspected reports, nine have been confirmed and 10 are probable for meeting the CDC’s definition of vaping-associated lung injury, nearly double the number of cases state health officials reported a week ago to the CDC. At least 39 reports are for patients who have been ruled out as having vaping-associated lung injury.
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"The number of confirmed and probable cases of vaping-associated lung injury we’re seeing continues to escalate and today I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of a patient who had this illness," Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. "We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak."
Two weeks ago, with the number of suspect cases rising here and nationally, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency and a four-month statewide ban on sales of all vaping products in Massachusetts. The sales ban applies to all vaping devices and products, including tobacco and marijuana.
"We as a Commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses," Baker said at the time. "We also need to better understand the inherent dangers of vaping both nicotine and marijuana."
As of last week, a total of 1,080 lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarette or vaping products have been reported to the CDC from 48 states and 1 U.S. territory. Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states, not including the Massachusetts death. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products. No single product has been linked to all cases of vaping related lung injury.
Several stores that sell vaping products have filed suits seeking to overturn Baker's ban.