A 15-year-old has become the youngest patient to die from the vape-related lung injury that has infected at least 2,602 people across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories. To date, 57 people have died in the outbreak, which health officials have labeled EVALI, for e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury.
“We are seeing that severe lung damage, and even death, can occur with just short-term use of these products,” said Philip Huang, M.D., the health director of Dallas County, where the patient died. The health department wouldn’t give many details, like the teen’s gender or what vaping products the patient had reported using. But officials did say that the teenager had “a chronic underlying medical condition.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which has been tracking the EVALI outbreak, reported that it appeared to peak in September but since then the number of those sickened has started to decline. However, states are still reporting new cases each week.
The teen’s death is a stark reminder of the interest youth have taken in vaping products. Vape manufacturers, like JUUL, have been criticized for marketing their products to youth with candy-flavored e-liquids and social media campaigns with influencers that appeal to younger audiences. Virtually all e-liquids contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical. Public health officials have accused JUUL and other vape manufacturers of taking a page out of Big Tobacco’s playbook and creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 Beasley Allen also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states that seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.