SEATTLE — There are two new cases of lung illness linked to vaping in Western Washington, and they come as the eighth death nationwide is linked to e-cigarettes.
Two additional cases in Spokane County, a patient in their teens and a patient in their 20s, were confirmed earlier this week.
The news comes as Walmart announced it will stop selling all e-cigarettes. Walmart's decision comes after the eighth death due to vaping was reported Thursday in Missouri.
In a statement announcing the decision to stop selling vaping products, Walmart explained, "Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam's Club U.S. locations. We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory."
UW Lung Specialist Dr. Vin Gupta said vapers should stop right away.
"You need to stop because some people are getting sick from non-black market products so that is what's scary," he said. "There is not one common theme here."
He says people become gravely ill when their lungs have an allergic reaction to something in the vape fluid.
"You get bit with a honey bee, you have a local allergic reaction," he said. "Imagine the same thing here in the lungs happening. You don't see it but that's exactly what's happening."
Dr Gupta says vapers should stop until more is known about what's causing the severe lung illnesses. He urges alternatives for those addicted to nicotine, "nicotine lozenge, nicotine patch. We know that perhaps these are not as effective as vaping products so it's going to be difficult, especially if you're used to the habit of smoking something, but we're talking about life or death here."
Washington state has not yet instituted tighter restrictions or a ban on e-cigarettes, but Governor Jay Inslee says his staff is working on possible actions for him to take.
More than 500 cases of lung illness linked to vaping have been confirmed nationwide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials advise anyone who needs help to quit vaping to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
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