Vaping related illnesses in several states may spark additional legislative change

Several states are now looking into lung-related illnesses possibly linked to electronic cigarette use. Utah, Texas and California are among those states investigating vaping-related illness following a number of cases. 

State-level investigations come less than a week after the CDC identified a cluster of lung illnesses related to electronic cigarette use. The CDC stated that it was investigating 193 potential cases of vaping-related illness in 22 states. 

“Vaping exposes users to many different substances for which we have little information about related harms – including flavorings, nicotine, cannabinoids, and solvents. CDC has been warning about the identified and potential dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping since these devices first appeared,” the CDC statement explains. 

In Utah, the number of cases has doubled in a week, and there are currently 21 ongoing investigations in the state. Five additional cases are still being investigated because direct links to vaping are not yet clear.

“The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is working with local health departments and healthcare providers to investigate the recent hospitalizations of five individuals who experienced serious breathing problems and reported recent vaping or other inhalational drugs,” the press release stated.

The Texas Department of State Health Services also issued a health alert following reported cases in other states. The release linked several cases of lung illness to electronic cigarette use. Following the near death of a North Texas teen last week, Dallas County Health Director Dr. Philip Huang said he knows of at least two cases of serious lung illness related to vaping.

In California, a number of severe cases have also been reported

Despite electronic cigarettes entering the market nearly 10 years ago, laws regulating the products have just begun to surface. Regulating electronic cigarettes and vaping product use was a top priority in all three states this legislative session. Regulation of teen use of the products also took center stage. 


Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.


In Utah, HB 252 changed the legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products from 19 to 21. The same bill also added a sin tax to electronic cigarettes and vaping products to be in line with taxes on other tobacco products in the state. 

In Texas, a similar bill was also signed into law, raising the legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. 

And, in California local governments have taken interest in vaping as the number of reported illness increases. This summer, San Francisco became the first in the nation to ban the use of electronic cigarettes altogether

California lawmakers also introduced legislation to ban the use of flavored vaping products as a way to decrease the use of electronic cigarettes among teens and young adults. 

Following the recent outbreak of lung illness linked to vaping products, it is likely that more strict legislation will be introduced during future legislative sessions. 

HHS Secretary Alex Azar released an official statement on the increasing number of cases across the nation, saying:

“HHS and the Trump Administration are using every tool we have to get to the bottom of this deeply concerning outbreak of illnesses in Americans who use e-cigarettes. More broadly, we will continue using every regulatory and enforcement power we have to stop the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. This situation, and the rising tide of youth tobacco use, is a top public health priority for the Trump Administration and every leader at HHS.”