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Vaping related deaths in NJ, Virginia up nation's total to 15

Jason Schott

Virginia and New Jersey were hit with their first vaping-related deaths on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the death toll in the United States to 15.

The New Jersey Health Department said in a statement that a woman from northern New Jersey died in August. The identity of the victim and details surrounding her death were not released. Shortly before the Jersey announcement, Virginia confirmed its first vaping-related death, which occurred on September 26 at a Greensboro, North Carolina hospital, the Virginia Department of Health announced on Tuesday

The Jersey case is one of two "probable" investigations linked to vaping deaths. There are 14 cases of serious lung disease in the Garden State associated with vaping, according to its health department. A task force report on vaping is expected later this week.

Like New Jersey, Virginia did not reveal additional details about the deceased, nor the substance smoked prior to passing.

Virginia health officials have confirmed that more than 30 people in Virginia and 800 people nationwide have reported vaping-related lung injuries, including over 14 reported deaths. A Virginia Department of Health spokesperson urged people concerned about lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use or vaping to stop using the products.

“Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer,” the spokesperson added.

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Late Monday, state health officials in Nebraska announced its first vaping-linked death. The patient, who passed away in May, was not identified by health officials, but was over 65, and lived in the Douglas County area, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The patient’s family identified him as 68-year-old John Steffen, a smoker who began using e-cigarettes roughly five years ago as a way to wean himself off them, according to his wife.

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