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Oregon health officials say 'stop vaping immediately' after second death

The Oregon Health Authority says that a second death in the state has been linked to a THC vape product.

Posted: Sep 26, 2019 4:57 PM
Updated: Sep 26, 2019 6:01 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon public health officials say that people should "stop vaping immediately" after a second death in the state has been linked to vaping a THC product, according to a statement from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Although both deaths in Oregon have been linked to cannabis products and not vapes that contain nicotine, OHA's warning does not make a distinction.

“If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit," said Dean Sidelinger, MD, state health officer. “If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.”

On Thursday evening, Governor Brown followed up the OHA's warning with a statement indicating that she would consider legal options "up to and including the temporary ban of all vaping products."

"Every preventable death is a tragedy, and absolutely unacceptable," Brown said. "My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones to this very unfortunate circumstance. We need to make sure that no other family suffers through this kind of tragedy."

Brown said that she'd directed the OHA to come up with recommendations for further steps within 24 hours.

House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) echoed the sentiments of Brown and health officials in a statement issued Thursday evening.

“Safeguarding public health has to be our number one priority," Drazan said. "I urge all Oregonians to take this advisory seriously and stop using vape products immediately until the Oregon Health Authority can properly investigate the risks.”

According to OHA, the latest death was someone who had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping "cannabis products," but it did not say whether these products had been purchased at a legal dispensary. The agency announced the first such death on September 3, and says that there have been five total cases of injury or death in the state that are "part of a national outbreak" linked to vaping.

Nationally, there have now been more than 800 cases of lung injuries linked to vaping in 46 states and one U.S. territory. There have been twelve deaths reported in 10 states.

"Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain," OHA said. "CDC and the FDA have not identified a cause, but all cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping."

People who have recently vaped and are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately, the agency said.

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