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First Vape-Related Death Reported In Montana

Nearly 23 percent of Montana high school students use electronic cigarette type products, according to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the Montana Office of Public Instruction.
Nearly 58% of Montana's high school have used electronic vapor products, according to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey from the state’s Office of Public Instruction.";

State health officials say a teenager's death is related to a vaping-associated illness. On Wednesday, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced the state’s first identified death linked with the national outbreak of e-cigarette use.

The health department said the case involves a person in their late teens with a history of vaping. No additional information has been released about the individual. State health officials said the cause of death is pulmonary disease and is associated with vaping, but details beyond that are unclear. State Epidemiologist Laura Williamson explained why.

“We’re still investigating the cause or causes of this particular death, and of course, nationally what's going on with these illnesses, and so we're still investigating what this individual vaped in the weeks and months leading up to the death," she said.

The health department's announcement comes less than a month since state officials confirmed the first case linking electronic cigarette use in Montana to severe lung disease. DPHHS says three cases, including the death announced Wednesday, are confirmed in the state.

As of last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 1,300 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vapes. The CDC also reported 26 deaths across the country.

Last week, Gov. Steve Bullock directed state health officials to enact an emergency temporary ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. The 120-day ban goes into effect Tuesday, Oct. 22, but vaping business groups say they plan to challenge the temporary ban in court.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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