A 17-year-old Bronx boy who died last week from a mysterious vape-related lung injury is the youngest among the 23 fatalities to date, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The boy, who was hospitalized twice in September with the ailment, is also the first vape-related fatality in New York state, local health officials said.
“Parents have to know; young people have to know. You are playing with your life when you play with this stuff,” said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
About 1,100 people in 48 states and one U.S. territory have fallen ill with a severe pulmonary illness after using at least one vape product. Federal and state health officials continue to investigate the outbreak, but have yet to identify a particular product or ingredient. However, several marijuana products have been singled out as possible culprits. No particular product has been identified as the cause of the Bronx boy’s death.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 7 of those sickened are male, 80% are younger than 35, and 16% are younger than 18.
News of the New York teenager’s death came as New York City announced it had filed a federal lawsuit against 22 websites that it claims were “preying on minors” by targeting and selling vaping products to youth, a state that prohibits the sale of tobacco products – including vaping products – to anyone younger than 21. The online retailers sell flavored e-liquids with names such as “Cookie Butter,” “Fruity Loops” and “Candy Cane,” that the suit claims are designed to appeal to kids.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 they also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.