This story was updated Sept. 20, 2019 with an eighth death from vaping-related illness.
Sept. 19, 2019 — Cases of vaping-related lung illness in the U.S. have climbed to 530 this week, up from 380 last week, with eight deaths so far, the CDC said.
While a profile of the patients is emerging, no single product or substance has been linked with the ongoing epidemic, federal officials say.
Meanwhile, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said it would stop selling all e-cigarettes once existing inventory runs out, CNBC reported Friday.
“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,” the company said in a memo to local managers. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
The 530 cases in 38 states and one territory include both confirmed and probable ones, said Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC. The seven deaths are from six states.
“No consistent e-cigarette product, additive, or brand has been identified in all cases,” she said.
The update comes as new data reveals the rate of vaping nicotine among teens has doubled in the past 2 years. According to the 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey, 25% of 12th graders, 20% of 10th graders, and 9% of eighth graders reported vaping nicotine in the past month.
For its investigation, the FDA has collected more than 150 vaping product samples, according to Mitch Zeller, JD, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. The agency is analyzing the samples for a broad range of substances, including THC and other cannabinoids, opioids, cutting agents, pesticides, and other toxins.
The FDA’s enforcement arm — the Office of Criminal Investigations — has begun a parallel investigation, Zeller said. It will focus on the supply chain and figuring out what is making people sick.
He didn’t know when federal officials might determine which product or products are to blame.
“Identifying any product in the samples is just one piece of the puzzle,” he said.