Vaping

A woman exhales a puff of vapor from a Juul pen. Under intense scrutiny amid a wave of underage vaping, Juul is pushing into television with a multimillion-dollar campaign rebranding itself as a stop-smoking aid for adults trying to kick cigarettes.

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says state health officials are preparing to urge people to stop vaping.

He said Saturday the state's health department will issue guidance this weekend echoing recent federal warnings about the habit.

He told reporters at an unrelated event that, "people should not be using vaping products, period."

U.S. health officials on Friday said people should stop vaping until more is known about why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses.

Officials have identified about 450 possible cases, including as many as five deaths, in 33 states.

No single vaping device, liquid or ingredient has been tied to all the illnesses. Many of the sickened were people who said they had been vaping THC, the chemical that gives marijuana its high. Many are teens.

Last month, state officials declared an emergency health threat and launched an inquiry after reports of a dozen New Yorkers required treatment for severe pulmonary disease.

Eight of the 12 cases were reported in Western New York, while the other patients were from the Capital Region, Long Island and Westchester County, according to the state health department.

The suspected connection between lung disease and vaping warrants that a study be conducted into the long-term health effects from vaping, Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, said at the time.

"While many people consider vaping to be a less dangerous alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is not risk free," Zucker acknowledged.

The New York patients, all of whom required hospital treatment, range in age from 18 to 49 years old.

Citing patient confidentiality laws, state officials declined to identify the home towns of those who have been treated for diseases linked to their use of vape products.

Officials also provided no descriptions of the specific products used by those patients, saying their names and types are part of the focus of the investigation.

The health department said it was sending information from its study to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as health officials in other states responding to similar vape-related hospitalizations.

The state's advisory, issued to administrators of health care clinics and hospitals, states: "Providers should remain alert for potential cases among patients who present with progressive respiratory symptoms, especially in those without a history of respiratory illness."

It goes on to recommend that providers acquire from patients "a thorough substance use history," with close attention to inhalation drug use, "particularly vape products."

Niagara County's health director, Dan Stapleton, said last month that vaping has become increasingly popular in his region, with teenagers picking up the habit at "an alarming rate."

"We think this is definitely a step in the right direction," Stapleton said of the health department study. "We're very worried about the increased use of these products by students."

Stapleton, the president of the Association of County Health Officials, said the new reports of vaping-related lung disease cases, including some tied to the inhalation of marijuana in concentrated form, bolsters the argument against ending New York's pot prohibition.

The New York patients treated for lung disease showed a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing and vomiting.

In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation raising the purchase age for cigarettes and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 years old. The higher age goes into effect Nov. 13.

Cuomo voiced optimism that the higher age will spare a generation of young New Yorkers from becoming addicted to tobacco products.

    

Joe Mahoney contributed to this report.

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