HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, Mass. (WWLP) – State health officials Monday announced the first vaping-related death in western Massachusetts.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, a Hampshire County woman in her 60s has died from a vaping-associated lung injury, making her the first in the state. She was among the 121 suspected cases that were reported to the DPH since September 11, 2019.
Of the 121 suspected reports, nine 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.
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. We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak.Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD., MPH
As of October 1, a total of 1,080 lung injury cases associated with e-cigarettes or vaping products have been reported to the CDC from 48 states and one U.S. territory. Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states, not including the reported Hampshire County death.
“I think it is really sad, obviously,” said Marc Patillo of Northampton. “I think it goes to show why regulating these products if people are going to be using them. Then it should be coming from the safest sources. I’ve heard there are a lot of additives and chemicals that people just haven’t done the research.”
According to the CDC, the ages of those killed by the illness range from 27 to 71. The CDC says they are working with states and other agencies to try and identify the cause of this vaping related illness.
Governor Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency and issued a four-month statewide ban of all vaping product sales in Massachusetts in late September. The ban applies to all vaping devices including tobacco and marijuana.
If you are experiencing unexplained progressive symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, or weight loss, of any severity, and an abnormal chest imaging study associated with vaping, click here to report it to the DPH.
You can also click here for more information on the vaping ban.