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Bronx Teen’s Death Was Vaping-Related, Chief Medical Examiner Says

The New York City chief medical examiner on Wednesday ruled that the October death of a teenage boy was caused by complications from a lung injury related to use of an e-cigarette or vaping product.

The Bronx teenager, Denis Byrne Jr., was 17 years old, the chief medical examiner said. The manner of death is considered an accident. It was the state’s first reported vaping-related death.

The teenager’s family hadn’t responded to requests for comment.

New York state health officials said the boy was hospitalized in early September with a vaping-associated respiratory illness. The teen was readmitted in late September and died at Montefiore Hospital on Oct. 4.

State health officials said that vaping-related illnesses are reported to the state through the poison-control system. Officials said that the vaping-related deaths are counted in the same fashion as a flu death, with flu noted as the cause of death even if a person dies from a related case of pneumonia, for example.

In November, the state announced a vaping-related death of a man in his 30s who lived in Manhattan and had a reported history of using e-cigarettes and vaping products.

As of Dec. 10, according to the state’s Department of Health, 205 New Yorkers have been reported to have a vaping-related illness. The number of cases reported weekly throughout the state has been steadily dropping since September. There have been 52 deaths and 2,409 hospitalizations across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for state lawmakers to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products in the coming legislative session, which begins in a few weeks. On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a bill that bans the retail sale of nearly all flavored e-cigarette products, a move that echoes efforts across the country by other municipalities and states.

The city’s ban will take effect on July 1, 2020.

Melanie Graycie West/Wall Street Journal