Gov. Kate Brown is advising Oregonians to stop vaping immediately after the state’s health authority announced a second vaping-related death Thursday.
Brown said she has sought advice from the Oregon Department of Justice on legal remedies, possibly including a temporary ban on all vaping products. Brown called the death a tragedy and “absolutely unacceptable.”
The governor has also asked the Oregon Health Authority to make recommendations within 24 hours on how “to protect Oregonians and public health.”
The authority has, so far, identified five reports of severe lung injuries that it’s linked to a national outbreak of vaping-related illness. All five individuals had vaped or used e-cigarettes, and were hospitalized after experiencing respiratory issues, resulting in shortness of breath, coughing or chest pain.
Two of the cases resulted in a death with the first fatality announced on Sept. 3. The other three individuals are “recovering,” according to state health officer Dean Sidelinger.
Sidelinger said the most recent death followed the same pattern as past cases: an adult, who experienced severe respiratory injuries after vaping cannabis products purchased from a licensed retailer. The individual was in the hospital for several weeks before succumbing to their injuries, according to Sidelinger. The authority is not releasing the person’s gender, age or location.
At a press conference Thursday announcing the latest death, health officials were adamant: No one in Oregon should still be vaping.
“No level of vaping is safe,” Sidelinger said. “With these acute respiratory injuries and deaths, we do urge all individuals to stop vaping, whether that’s nicotine-based products, cannabis products or other products.”
State health officials have been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate what is behind the spike in vaping-related illnesses and deaths. More than 800 cases have been reported nationwide.
Spurred by the rising numbers, a series of states took action this week to dissuade residents from picking up the products. On Tuesday, Massachusetts ordered a four-month ban on sales. The same day, California’s Department of Public Health urged all residents “to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has announced he plans to make an executive order related to vaping Friday.
At least one Oregon legislator is considering going further than a temporary ban. Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, said Thursday that she intends to introduce legislation during the 2020 session that would ban retail and online sales of all flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products. In the meantime, she said she’s urging Brown to issue a temporary ban on product sales.
“Oregon needs an immediate pause in sales and stronger, longer-term regulation of all vaping related products to save lives, prevent addiction and protect public health,” Helt said in a statement.
Oregon is now the third state with more than one vaping death, after California and Kansas. Officials now count at least 13 vaping deaths in the country.
With the root cause of these vaping-related illnesses still unknown, Sidelinger said it’s likely health officials are going to see “increased number of cases and, tragically, more deaths.”
This content was originally published here.