Two New York State residents, both from NYC, have now died from the same vape-related lung disease that has killed dozens of people nationwide, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The second fatality was a Manhattan man in his 30s who had a "history of using e-cigarettes and vape products," according to Cuomo's statement, which cites information from the health department.
"DOH is continuing its robust investigation into the cause of these illnesses, but in the meantime our message on vaping remains unchanged: if you don't know what you're smoking, don't smoke it," Cuomo warned.
Neither the NYC Health Department nor the Medical Examiner immediately responded to Gothamist's request for more details about the fatality. Last month, however, a 17-year-old in the Bronx became the first person in New York to die of apparent complications from vape use. By the CDC's most recent count, at least 42 vape-related deaths have been confirmed nationwide. Additionally, a minimum of 2,172 people so far have been sickened with severe lung disease the CDC believes comes from vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC vape juices. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic who have examined lung tissue samples from some of the patients say the damage looks similar to what you might expect in a person exposed to a "toxic chemical spill," or a substance like mustard gas.
Yesterday, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued vape giant Juul, which has been hit with a raft of lawsuits in recent months. James contends that Juul's advertising and marketing deliberately targeted teens, "glamorizing vaping" in order to addict a future generation of customers to nicotine. Cuomo has also attempted to implement a statewide ban on the sale of flavored cartridges, beloved of youths, through an emergency executive order issued in September. That's been tied up in the courts since last month, prompting Cuomo to call on the federal government to take immediate action — something the president previously pledged to do, but reneged on this week, allegedly over concerns about how a flavored e-cigarette ban would play with his base.
"President Trump has already backed down from his vow to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes — despite widespread evidence that these flavors are used to target our teens and young adults — and put the interests of the vaping industry over the lives of Americans," Cuomo's statement reads. "This is Big Tobacco all over again. Make no mistake: this is a public health crisis and until our 'leaders' in Washington do something to stop it, more lives will be lost."
Update: Avery Cohen, Deputy Press Secretary for the Mayor's Office, said in a statement: “The City is working collaboratively with the State and the investigation continues. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner continues testing and analysis and the State will be working with federal partners to investigate this case as well as the broader crisis.”