KNX Exclusive: Rep. Adam Schiff Talks About First Vaping Death in LA County

Rebekah Sager
September 06, 2019 - 11:47 am

Health authorities in Los Angeles say they are investigating the first death of a local resident, associated with vaping. 

Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-Burbank) Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee sat down with KNX In-Depth hosts to talk about the dangers of vaping. 

"Congress is looking into to this," Schiff said. "It seems like we've stepped back in time, and we're exactly where we were with the tobacco industry and the beginning of congressional oversight of the tobacco industry, and we're seeing the same kind of health concerns with vaping," he says. 

Schiff says his younger child tells him all the time how prevalent vaping is in high school and even in middle school. 

Dr. Muntu Davis, the county's health officers described the patient as "an older adult who had chronic underlying health conditions." Davis added that "it is not clear at this time if there is a specific product or device" that lead to this person's death. 

According to officials, there have been 12 cases so far of vaping-associated pulmonary injuries reported in LA County. 

Thoracic surgeon Osita Onugha with the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica spoke with KNX about the dangers. 

Officials said they have identified 450 possible illnesses, including at least three deaths, in 33 states.

“We are committed to finding out what is making people sick,”  Robert R. Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. “All available information is being carefully analyzed, and these initial findings are helping us narrow the focus of our investigation and get us closer to the answers needed to save lives.

"While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products," according to a CDC statement. "People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms -- e.g., cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever -- and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns. Regardless of the ongoing investigation, people who use e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street and should not modify e-cigarette products or add any substances that are not intended by the manufacturer. E-cigarette products should never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products."

The LA County Health Department says in an advisory there've been 12 cases of pulmonary injury associated with the use of e-cigarettes have been reported in the county, and urges the public to take precautions.

Deaths previously were reported in Illinois and Oregon.

Indiana officials said the person who died there was an adult, but they didn't say when it happened or release other details.

Earlier Friday, U.S. health officials renewed calls for people to stop vaping until they figure out why some are coming down with serious breathing illnesses.

Davis says the health issues associated with vaping does not discriminate.  "We're not seeing this in just one age group," he said, nothing that the cases "really cross the gamut" of ages and health history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.