Gov. Kelly confirms second vaping related death in Kansas

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File – In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas Governor Kelly announced that a second Kansan has died from a vaping related illness on Monday.

She said the individual who passed was a male over the age of 50 who had underlying health conditions.

Kelly wanted Kansans to know that the state is committed to combatting this rapidly increasing health issue.

“Today, I am saddened to announce the death of a second Kansan in association with this outbreak,” Governor Kelly said. “Dr. Lee Norman and his team with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working tirelessly with other states and organizations to gather facts on e-cigarettes and its effects. We are coordinating a response to combat this epidemic, so that families can avoid such tragic outcomes.”   

According to the CDC, the number of vaping-related illnesses nationally has climbed to 530, with several deaths nationwide as federal and state health officials continue to search for the cause of the outbreak. These numbers indicate a 40 percent increase from last week, with half of the patients under the age of 25.

The first Kansas death related to vaping was a woman who was over the age of 50 with underlying health conditions. She died on September 10.

In Kansas, there are currently nine probable or confirmed vaping related cases, including the two deaths.

Of those, five are male and four are female and range in age from 17 to 67 years old. All were hospitalized, five have been released from the hospital and two remain hospitalized.

Regarding the types of vaping products used, there was a combination of those reporting using only nicotine, only THC, only CBD and a combination of THC and nicotine.

Kelly noted that the state of Kansas is working to address this epidemic and is actively reviewing policy options.

Dr. Norman was chosen to testify before Congress concerning the effects of e-cigarettes and will offer his testimony in front of the United States House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Wednesday, September 25.

“E-cigarettes are unregulated, which means that we don’t know what’s in them,” Dr. Norman, KDHE secretary, said. “And, of great concern to me, is that in the midst of all these illnesses being reported, the amount of young people using them is significant.”

Governor Kelly urges Kansans to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advice regarding vaping: While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products. People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever) and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns.

The CDC also said that regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

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