DPH: 38 cases of vaping-related illnesses reported in Massachusetts

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Before Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control had confirmed six deaths linked to vaping related illness but, the Tulare County Public Health Officer in California confirmed a seventh death, and much is still unknown about the illness.

Seven deaths and hundreds of cases surround what the CDC is calling “serious lung illnesses associated with E-cigarette products” or a vaping related illness.

Ann Scales with the Department of Public Health told 22News, to date, Massachusetts has received 38 reports of people with “possible respiratory disease associated with vaping” but these cases have not yet been confirmed.

“If your friend is vaping and you hit their vape, it could affect you even though it probably wouldn’t affect them it could affect you,” said Cody Thornton of Springfield. “It is just bad to do it in general, it’s just nicotine without the stick.”

Symptoms include chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC said it is too early to pinpoint “a single product or substance common to all cases.”

But in New York, that state’s Health Department is conducting their own investigation, and after analyzing products submitted by patients who seemed to be suffering from the illness, at least one vitamin E acetate containing vape product was supplied by each person.

As part of the investigation, New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, ordered subpoenas be issued to three companies in relation to their vitamin E acetate findings, including one based in Amherst.

We choose not to identify the company, as attempts to contact a lawyer believed to represent them have not yet been returned. However, the company did post a notice on their website, saying in part, “We are alarmed by recent reports” and pointed out, “These products have been made widely available across dozens of other companies.”

The company said they have taken steps to make sure no products currently for sale on their site contain vitamin E acetate.

Mass Terpenes provided a statement to 22News.

The full statement reads,

We are alarmed by recent reports linking vape ingredients containing Vitamin E acetate to serious lung problems of consumers. These products have been made widely available across dozens of other companies and until the definitive cause is identified, do not include Vitamin E thickeners in anything you make or sell, and please notify your customers to avoid all products containing it.

We support the efforts of state and federal authorities to get to the bottom of this public health emergency and intend to cooperate fully. MassTerpenes will be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Please know that we have never sold a product without assurances of safety from the leading terpene suppliers, and have taken steps to ensure that absolutely NO products on this site contain Vitamin E acetate.

Mass Terpenes

Springfield resident Jonathan Ortiz told 22News, “From what I have heard and seen, the amount of people that get an illness is from it are a lot lower than what everyone is blowing it up to be, so not too worried about it.”

The CDC says it is too soon to tell what product or substance could be causing this illness, but recommend people think about stopping their vape use at least for the time being.

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