DPH: First vaping-related death reported in Massachusetts

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported on Monday the first vaping-related death in the state.

The victim, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, was among one of the 121 suspected cases that had been reported to DPH since Sept. 11.


Of the 121 suspected reports, 9 cases have been confirmed and 10 are probable for meeting the CDC's definition of vaping-associated lung injury, nearly double the number of cases DPH 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.

This report comes on the heels of Governor Baker's statewide vaping ban after declaring a public health emergency on Sept. 24. The sales ban applies to all vaping devices and products, including tobacco and marijuana.

Terry MacCormark, a spokesperson for Gov. Baker, issued a statement following the death announcement saying:

"Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito are saddened to learn that a life has been lost to a vaping-related illness and will continue to work with the CDC, Department of Public Health and the medical community to collect more information about what is making people sick. On September 24th, the administration declared a public health emergency and implemented a four-month temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products to analyze reported cases of illness and consider next steps."

As of October 1, 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 reported today. 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.

"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," said Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD., MPH. "We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak."

Last week, two lawsuits that challenged Baker's vaping ban were denied a temporary pause on the ban, but will get a full hearing on Oct. 15.

The first lawsuit was brought by three local shop owners who say the ban will shut them down if it stands. A second lawsuit out of Washington, D.C. is being filed by Vapor Technology Association, a national, non-profit industry trade association of nicotine-vapor-products.

Store owners behind the lawsuits say they are hurting, and that many will lose their businesses before the temporary ban is over.

Many are also arguing the clampdown on vaping is sending people back to smoking cigarettes or to buying black market cartridges, which have been proven to contain pesticides and solvents that could lead to lung illnesses.

Medical marijuana patients who use vapes to manage their pain are hoping Governor Charlie Baker will reconsider his ban on the products.

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