More than 500 people have been sickened in an outbreak of vaping-related illness in the United States, health authorities said on Thursday, as Los Angeles became the latest city to take steps to ban flavoured e-cigarettes.
The known tally from the mysterious lung disease has jumped from 380 to 530, though the number of deaths stood unchanged at seven, according to a weekly report from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than half the cases involved patients under 25 years of age and three-quarters were men, Anne Schuchat, the centres’ principal deputy director, said. Sixteen percent of those taken ill were under age 18.
E-cigarettes have been touted as a safer alternative to smoking. But critics say the risks are insufficiently understood, while flavoured vaping liquids appeal particularly to children and risk getting them addicted to nicotine.
The US Food and Drug Administration’s laboratories are testing more than 150 samples of suspect product, but have yet to identify the substance responsible for the patients’ severe pulmonary disease, said Mitch Zeller, who directs the agency’s Centre for Tobacco Products.