AUSTIN, Texas - State health officials are releasing limited information about the woman who is the state's first recorded death linked to vaping. Agency spokesperson Chris Van Deusen says the woman had pre-existing health problems.
"It was in a woman, an older adult resident of our North Texas public health region," Van Deusen said. "The death occurred last week following her diagnosed with this severe lung disease that appears to be associated with vaping."
With the death here in Texas, the CDC says there have been a total of 26 deaths across the nation and almost 1,300 lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes. As of October 8, the Texas Department of State Health Services has identified a total of 95 cases of lung illness linked to vaping, with six in central Texas. Most of the cases are located in North and Southeast Texas.
"It’s not one product or one type of vaping, not one brand, so at this point we don’t really know why that North Texas region has more than half the cases in the state,” said Van Deusen.
What they do know is vaping marijuana or THC is a common factor in 90% of the cases.
The acknowledgment of the marijuana link by government regulators, as well as the black market influence on the industry, comes as no surprise to those who run vape shops. For more than a decade Shawn Kaufmann has sold e-cigarettes and has made vaping flavors.
"It is absolutely too little too late,” said Kaufmann.
Kaufman believes the industry has been unfairly labeled as a health hazard.
"You have many of the businesses simply closing their doors, my competitor at my other location, just closed their doors, when you look at my store, I've looked at an 80% decrease, I have had to cut my staff in half,” said Kaufmann.
Kaufmann is calling on regulators to move quicker in determining what’s causing people to get sick, he is confident the investigation will not identify the type of products he sells.
"A statement needs to be made on a federal level kind of letting e-cigarettes off of the hook because it’s just unfair the way that this has been shifted towards our industry,” said Kaufmann.
The advice from state officials is for people to just stop vaping until a cause is found.