Multnomah County issues advisory about vaping amid hospitalizations, deaths

Vaping is seen almost everywhere, and it’s hard to miss the large plume of white from users.

But that popularity has landed hundreds in the hospital nationwide and cost another nine people their lives. In Oregon alone there has been one vaping-related death and five hospitalizations.

“Unfortunately, the increase has just surpassed anyone’s imagination,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said.

Kafoury told KATU the county commission has worked to keep people as safe as possible over the years implementing age limits, and even passing a retail licensure program.

“To make sure we know who is selling these products and that they are not selling them to minors,” Kafoury said.

And now the commission is issuing an advisory — telling anyone who vapes to stop while the CDC investigates the cause of the hospitalizations.

As more people get sick, lawmakers across the state are concerned.

“We’re going to keep seeing people get sick and die if we don’t address it,” Senator Jeff Merkley said.

That’s why Senator Merkley says he’s working with other lawmakers on legislation at the federal level.

“We are working to get rid of refillable cartridges and candy flavors, off the market. Also, tax vaping like we tax the other nicotine products,” Merkley said.

Merkley says the focus of flavors have been on the mind of many lawmakers, and while he says that’s not necessarily the cause of the illnesses, he says deterring teens early will stop them from being addicted to nicotine later.

Another focus that could keep people healthy – refillable cartridges. Senator Merkley says by having refillable cartridges, people are able to vape anything they want and even black-market products that could be dangerous or deadly.

KATU News reached out to Governor Kate Brown to see what Oregon is looking at as many states have implemented bans. We did not get an answer to our questions, instead the following statement:

“The Oregon Health Authority is investigating each of the vaping-related illness cases in Oregon and I encourage you to connect with the agency for more information on those. While OHA’s investigations are ongoing, Oregonians should use extra caution when using vaping products. Children and young people especially, should not be vaping.” –Charles Boyle, Press Secretary for Governor Kate Brown