/Teenager becomes first vaping fatality in New York

Teenager becomes first vaping fatality in New York

Vaping products for sale | Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called vaping a “public health crisis.” | Getty Images

ALBANY — A 17-year-old Bronx resident has become the first New Yorker to die from a vaping-related illness, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Cuomo called vaping a “public health crisis” and said the state Department of Health has begun investigating the boy’s case.

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“Parents have to know, young people have to know, you are playing with your life, when you play with this stuff,” he told reporters at an unrelated event at his Manhattan offices.

“These companies know exactly what they’re doing because they market to young people,” Cuomo said.

At least 110 illnesses have been confirmed in New York as of Monday, and nearly 1,100 people have been sickened across the U.S. with vaping-related respiratory injuries, according to the CDC and FDA. At least 18 other people have died.

More than 80 percent of those illnesses have involved people under the age of 35, and public health officials are discouraging the use of all vaping-related products — with an emphasis on those containing THC — as they struggle to suss out the root problem. The vaping industry contends its reputation and business are being maligned for the problems caused by counterfeit and other illicit products, and the crackdowns imposed by New York and others are unfairly targeting them.

A Siena College poll released Monday found more than three-quarters of New Yorkers surveyed considered e-cigarette usage to be either a somewhat or very serious public health problem. Sixty-eight percent of respondents supported the Cuomo administration’s emergency directive prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarette products — which a state appellate court put on hold late last week — and more than half of those polled backed banning the sale of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

The boy was hospitalized at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Cuomo said. Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a separate event at roughly the same time, said he had not heard about the teen’s death.

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