Health officials warn of pulmonary illness linked with vaping

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Medical health officials are warning health care providers across the state to be on the lookout for severe pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping.

As many as 50 people in at least six states have come down with breathing illnesses that may be linked to e-cigarettes or other vaping products.

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia has one confirmed case and one probable case. DHHR Communications Director Allison Adler said they could not comment farther due to privacy restrictions.

Electronic cigarettes have been described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes, but health officials have been worried about kids using them, in part because of an increase in the number of teens using the products. From 2017 to 2018, the number of teens who vaped grew by nearly 80 percent.

Most of the concern has focused on nicotine, which health officials say is harmful to developing brains and might make kids more likely to take up cigarettes. But some vaping products have been found to contain other potentially harmful substances, including flavoring chemicals and oils used for vaping marijuana, experts say.

Earlier this week, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored electronic cigarettes, accusing companies of using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to “hook children on nicotine.” Retailers will have 30 days to comply with the rules once they’re filed in coming weeks.

Back in West Virginia, a class-action lawsuit was filed against JUUL Labs, Inc., Altria Group, Inc., and Philip Morris USA, Inc. for targeting teenagers and pre-teens with nicotine-containing products. The lawsuit, filed last month, says it seeks to hold the defendants accountable for designing and marketing JUUL nicotine-containing products to children.

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