PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Spurred by an outbreak of vaping-related lung disease, vaping among young people is of paramount concern among health officials in Clark and Multnomah Counties.
Oregon now has 5 reported cases of vaping illness — including one fatal case.
At least 6 people in Washington have developed an illness related to vaping and e-cigarettes.
Nationally — 16% of cases involve people under age 18.
“1 out of 6 of the cases are in children,” said Dr. Alan Melnick with the Clark County health department.
Doctors don’t know the long term prognosis for people diagnosed with lung disease related to vaping.
“Some of them have had lipoid pneumonia, which is oils and fats getting into the lungs, and many of them go onto chronic lung disease,” Melnick said.
Melnick’s concern is the generation of teenagers becoming dependant on nicotine and not knowing what it is in vape devices that causes the illness.
“Until we know more, our recommendation is to refrain from using these products,” Melnick said.
The Multnomah County Board of Health also announced it is calling on the state and federal government to ban flavored nicotine products. It is also warning people that vaping products may be harmful and they should stop using them.
They will also be directing the health department to propose a ban on flavored vape products.
As more cases keep coming up locally and nationwide, a Washington State man is now suing 6 companies that make vaping products.
Charles Wilcoxen, a former green beret, said he started vaping marijuana to ease back pain and help him sleep. Earlier this month, he was rushed to the hospital when he began wheezing.
“They did a chest x-ray and determined there was a significant amount of stuff in my lungs,” Wilcoxen said. “And, after further tests and stuff, they determined that I had lipoid pneumonia, which was in fact due to the vaping cartridges that were being used.”
Wilcoxen’s attorney said this is the first lawsuit in Washington involving vaping products.