NEW YORK — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Department of Health urge people to stop vaping. Across the country, and right here in New York State, investigations are being launched into what is making hundreds of people very sick.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his health commissioner announced a new investigation on Monday, which will include subpoenas to companies that market and sale vaping thickening agents. Investigators want to figure out exactly what is in the vaping products that's causing lung illnesses. It's believed Vitamin E acetate would be part of the problem.
The State Health Department is also working to draft new regulations, which will require shops that sell vaping products post warnings letting people know the possible dangers. The governor is also working on proposed legislation to ban any flavored forms of e-cigarettes, which advocates say are aimed at kids.
As of late, the message from the governor and others has been to avoid vaping all-together.
"Common sense says if you do not know what you are smoking, don't smoke it, and right now we don't know what you are smoking in a lot of these vaping substances," Cuomo said. "The rise in vaping-associated illnesses is a frightening public health phenomenon and I am directing the Department of Health to take several actions to address this crisis, including starting an investigation into some of these companies that produce vaping substances to find out what's in it and requiring that smoke and vape shops post a warning that lets people know that this is a risky activity. I am also going to propose new legislation that will ban flavored e-cigarettes. In the meantime our advice is quite simple: don't do it because we don't know if it's safe."
There have been 13 confirmed cases of pulmonary illness related to vaping in Western New York, and the Erie County Health Commissioner says that number may continue to rise.
In addition to the new measures announced Monday from the state, experts have been studying lab results from vaping. And they've found high levels of Vitamin E acetate in almost all the samples containing cannabis, which could be linked to these pulmonary illnesses.
All of that research continues in New York State and across the country as leaders try to get a handle on why all of these illnesses are happening.
Meantime, the FDA sent a warning letter to Juul on Monday saying the company broke the law by advertising its vaping pods as a safer alternative to cigarettes. They're threatening to fine or even seize the company's products if it doesn't correct its marketing.