State officials announce first death from ‘vaping’ in Kentucky

Kentucky health officials have reported the state’s first probable death related to use of electronic cigarettes.

The commissioner of the state Department for Public Health, Dr. Angela Dearinger, said the death was of a man in his late 20s.

“We are saddened to announce the death associated with this outbreak,” acting state Health Secretary Eric Friedlander said in a news release. “To protect public health, we urge Kentuckians – especially young people – to stop using all vaping products.”

Despite the term “vaping,” many e-cigarette devices do not produce a vapor, which has liquid particles suspended in the air. They produce an aerosol, which has liquid and/or solid particles suspended in a gaseous medium.

As of Jan. 7, 57 vaping-related deaths had been confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Kentucky as of Jan. 10, there have been 48 reports of vaping related illness under investigation, with seven of them confirmed and 13 of them probable. Eleven of the reports have been ruled out. The death was among the probable cases.

The illness is called EVALI, for “E-cigarette or Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury.” A probable case of EVALI means that someone has a lung injury believed to be caused by vaping, but may have other health issues, like the flu or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says the release.

The state health department offers several programs to help people of all ages quit smoking and vaping, and two are specifically designed for young people.

“Quit Now Kentucky” offers confidential, one-on-one coaching for Kentuckians of all ages who want to quit using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669); text QUITKY to 797979; or go to http://www.quitnowkentucky.org.

“My Life, My Quit” is a free, confidential quit line for teens 17 and younger who want to quit using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Coaching is available by text message, phone or online chat. Call 1-855-891-9989, text START MY QUIT to 855-891-9989; or go to www.mylifemyquit.com.

“This is Quitting” is a free texting service for young adults and teens who want to quit using e-cigarettes. This service is for people ages 13 to 24 and only provides coaching by text message. People who enroll in This is Quitting receive one text per day leading up to the day they quit vaping, and for at least two months after they quit. To sign up, text KENTUCKY to 88709.

For anyone using products with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, there is findhelpnowky.org, which can locate treatment for substance-use disorder in real time. The locator contains treatment providers and treatment openings across Kentucky. The site also contains information about substance use, treatment and recovery resources.