Warnings emerge of possible link between e-cigarettes and severe lung disease in teens

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There are new warnings this morning about a possible link between severe lung disease in teenagers and e-cigarettes and vaping. Minnesota is now the third state where serious lung injuries have been reported in the last month.

Four cases in the state involved 16- to 18-year-old teenagers. CBS News spoke with the chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, who described a pattern of cases with a similar but unusual path.

Four cases of severe lung injury in the Twin Cities are being linked to vaping and e-cigarette use, prompting state health officials to warn the public about the harm of these products and to advise doctors to be on the lookout.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued the warning Tuesday after receiving four case reports last week from Children’s Minnesota. The teenage patients who suffered the illnesses all were hospitalized for more than one week, with some admitted to intensive care.

While state health authorities have long issued warnings about vaping because of some of the contaminants in e-cigarette cartridges and products, this is the first time they have issued a public notice directly associating the use of these products to patient illnesses.

E-cigarettes “present a danger to our youth, and now we have kids sitting in the hospital that are suffering from lung injuries,” said Laura Oliven, tobacco control program manager for the Minnesota Department of Health. “It takes it to a new level of concern.”

The illnesses appear to match as many as 12 lung injury cases reported in Wisconsin, and another six in Illinois, but state health authorities said they are still exploring the link to vaping in general, and to the cases in other states. “There are still many unanswered questions, but the health harms emerging from the current epidemic of youth vaping in Minnesota continue to increase,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist.

The exact products used by the teens are unknown, but the state noted that some were marijuana-based while others contained nicotine.

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