As the death toll rises from a mysterious lung illness linked to vaping, with the first related California death reported in Los Angeles Friday, the Center for Disease Control is warning people to stop vaping while it investigates − but not all Bay Area residents are taking the warnings seriously.
The CDC has reported 450 cases of serious lung illness in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The cause remains unknown, but officials think the illness stems from chemical exposure, although it’s not linked to a specific product or substance.
Most cases have been associated with e-cigarette products containing cannabis.
After vaping for a year and a half, one 18-year-old landed in the hospital with a severe lung injury that caused him to need a supplemental breathing mask.
The use of electronic cigarettes is especially popular among young people, and students at UC Berkeley had mixed reactions to the warnings from the CDC.
Cassidy Bold, 19, started vaping at 14 but she said she’s not worried about how it may be affecting her health.
“Think about all the cases of bad health from cigarettes,” she said. “Give me that many cases about a vape and then I’ll be concerned.”
In California 57 cases of severe respiratory illness have been reported following e-cigarette use, up 24 cases from two weeks ago. The Marin County Health Department issued a warning advising people not to vape, and some UC Berkeley students are taking the warnings from Marin County and the CDC seriously.
Student Max Ulrich is one of them. “Especially after hearing about the first person who died, now people are dropping like flies. It’s scary,” he said.