Vaping: US deaths rise to 26, illnesses to 1,299

A mysterious respiratory sickness related to e-cigarette use is spreading, and the epidemic shows no sign of abating.

    With the death toll continuing to rise, many states are passing bans on certain e-cigarette products [Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]
    With the death toll continuing to rise, many states are passing bans on certain e-cigarette products [Kevin Frayer/Getty Images]

    United States health officials on Thursday reported 26 deaths and 1,299 confirmed and probable cases so far from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping.

    Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,080 cases and 18 deaths from the illness.

    As of October 8, confirmed deaths were reported from 21 states, including one each from California, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Texas and Pennsylvania.

    Investigators have not linked the cases to any specific product or compound, but have pointed to vaping oils containing THC (tetrahydrocannabidinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis or marijuana) as being especially risky.

    The serious respiratory illness has prompted a health scare that has led US officials to urge people to stop vaping, especially with products containing THC.

    But doctors studying lung tissue samples from people with vaping-related injuries have found that none of the cases actually had evidence of lipoid pneumonia, a rare condition typically linked to people accidentally inhaling oils into their lungs.

    With the outbreak picking up in pace, some states - including New York, Michigan and Rhode Island - have banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes.

    Massachusetts has gone a step further by imposing a four-month ban on all vaping products, and a federal judge last week denied an industry bid to put the ban on hold.

    Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has urged state agencies to ban flavoured and cannabis-derived vaping products.

    Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Wednesday it will stop the sale of e-cigarette components in the US, joining other retailers that have moved to stop the sale of the devices - including Kroger Co, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and Walmart Inc.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency