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Vaping Crisis Leads to at Least 11 Deaths: 'If This Was Romaine Lettuce Our Shelves Would Be Empty' 

09-25-2019
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The number of vaping deaths continues to rise with at least 11 people succumbing to vaping injuries after Georgia and Florida health officials report deaths in their states.

And the governor of Massachusetts has now imposed a four-month ban Tuesday on the sales of vaping products in the state. It's in response to what some are calling a vaping crisis that's gripping the country. The latest numbers indicate vaping is responsible for lung problems affecting more than 500 people nationwide.

It's why lawmakers held an emergency hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday to address this growing concern.

"If this was romaine lettuce our shelves would be empty," said Ruby Johnson during the hearing.
 
Johnson is a mother of seven, and she told lawmakers how her 18-year-old daughter became desperately ill while heading to her freshman year of college. The family rushed her to the emergency room.

"I'll never forget watching her cry that she literally could not breathe without excruciating pain as she was pumped full of IV fluids, antibiotics, steroids, pain med, anti-nausea meds and a diuretic to clear fluid from her badly inflamed lungs," Johnson said.
 
During that ordeal, the family learned the teen had been vaping, joining a growing number who have become sick after smoking e-cigarettes.
 
An expert with the US Centers for Disease Control admitted a startling truth during the hearing.

"We don't know the cause," said Dr. Anne Schuchat.  "No single product, brand, substance or additive has been linked to all cases."
 
"Do we know whether this outbreak will result in long-term or permanent lung damage?" questioned one lawmaker.  

"I fear that it may, but we do not know that yet," Schuchat responded.
 
What experts do know is teens are attracted to vaping by flashy ads and hip devices. Then there are flavors like mint and menthol, even fruit flavors.
 
"We're extremely concerned about flavors and the role they play in hooking young people to a life of nicotine," Schuchat said.
 
A Reuters-Ipsos poll released this week indicates 63 percent of adults believe e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes, 29 percent believe vaping is a good way to help people quit smoking, while 77 percent believe the vaping industry should be regulated like cigarettes.
 
Vicky Porter calls vaping a health miracle and credits it for saving her from lung cancer.

"E-cigarettes were the only thing, the only thing that helped me quit smoking," Porter said.
 
She says while social media is flooded more and more with negative images about vaping, she agrees that regulations should be enforced to keep e-cigs away from teenagers, but not out of the hands of consenting adults.
 
"On behalf of former smokers, I hope you will reject the general war on vaping," Porter said.
 
Less than two weeks ago, President Trump proposed a ban on flavored vaping products because they attract teens. While the FDA has yet to act on the flavor ban, it has issued a warned to vaping company Juul Labs for touting its products as safer than traditional cigarettes.

The company also faces about 30 lawsuits for marketing its products to children, something the company denies.
 

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