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Dallas teen dies from vaping-related illness

A Dallas County teenager has died due to complications from vaping, county health officials announced this week.

The death is the first recorded in Dallas County. Previously, a North Texas woman died in October from a vaping-related lung disease.

The teenager, who has not been identified, also had an undisclosed chronic underlying medical condition, according to a news release.

“Reporting a death in a teen due to (vaping) is so tragic,” said Dr. Philip Huang, the county’s health director. “We are seeing that severe lung damage, and even death, can occur with just short-term use of these products.”

As of Dec. 30, the county health department has received reports of 53 confirmed or probable cases, including one teen who started vaping one month before being admitted to the hospital. The state has tracked 228, with the majority of cases in North Texas.

Since June, more than 2,500 cases of hospitalization or death associated with vaping have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of cases have steadily declined since a peak in September.

According to the CDC, vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing vaping products is closely associated with the lung illnesses.

Vaping has become a political fault line in recent months.

Last fall President Donald Trump vowed to crack down on vaping by banning flavored liquids — bubblegum, cotton candy and apple pie — that are marketed to young consumers.

He seemed to have softened his stance after aides suggested it would be politically risky to alienate that political constituency.

But on Thursday, the FDA moved forward with a ban on all preloaded nicotine devices with sweet and savory flavors. Flavored liquid nicotine, however, may still be used. The new rule goes into effect in 30 days.

Texas has taken its own steps to make it more difficult for teens to obtain e-cigarettes. Last year, state lawmakers raised the age to buy all nicotine products to 21.

Nic Garcia/Dallas Morning News