Second Person in Oregon Has Died from Vaping-Related Illness

Earlier today, Gov. Kate Brown requested that the OHA "look at options we have for potentially decreasing the impact of this illness." That could mean a ban.

(Justin Tyler Norton)

The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed a second vape-related death on Sept. 26.

The statement released by the OHA said that the deceased person was hospitalized after vaping cannabis products.

The health agency warned people to stop vaping immediately.

"People should stop vaping immediately," said Dean Sidelinger, the state's health officer. "If you vape, whether it's cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit."

In a press conference this afternoon, state health officials escalated their warnings surrounding e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

Up until now, state health agencies have remained fairly subdued about what the state's next steps are for cannabis and vaping regulation. Now, the OHA makes it clear: if you vape, you might die.

"We are here today to urge individuals to stop vaping. The safety of this product has been in question for a long time, we know this product is not safe. ..with these [deaths], we encourage all individuals to stop vaping," said Sidelinger.

The second death in Oregon—and the 12th death in the nation—was announced shortly before the conference was held. The deceased person had been vaping cannabis products. The OHA confirmed that the victim had bought legal cannabis products from licensed retailers.

Now the governor may be weighing a ban on vape products.

Earlier today, Gov. Kate Brown requested that the OHA "look at options we have for potentially decreasing the impact of this illness," said Sidelinger. "And certainly policy options such as a ban on these products is a possibility."

"All of these individuals reported using cannabis products all from licensed retailers," said Salinger.

State officials released limited information about the victim.

Sidelinger said that the person who died had been one of the previously reported illnesses in the state, and succumbed to the lung injury several weeks after the person was hospitalized.

At one point during the press conference, Sidelinger referred to the victim as "she" but after being questioned about the gender said he did not know the gender and apologized for the slip.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported over 800 confirmed and probable cases of the lung illness. When asked if Oregon was reporting both types of cases, Sidelinger said the state is only reporting confirmed cases and would not say how many probable cases there currently are.

"We're choosing to focus on the folks we've determined meet the case definition of this," Sidelinger said.

Sidelinger said the state anticipates more cases emerging in the following days and weeks, as well as more deaths—because the products are still out there. "We do anticipate we'll see more cases," he said.

Despite the now two confirmed deaths in the state, no ban on flavored vaping or cannabis products has been implemented, but the Multnomah County Board of Health did announce on Sep. 24 that they would be working on implementing a local flavor ban.

So far, health agencies in the state have been relatively quiet about how cannabis shops should proceed during the vaping crisis.

Earlier this month, following the state's first reported death of a person who had bought products from two licensed cannabis shops, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission asked licensed shop owners to pull products off their shelves that they were not entirely confident about. The OLCC did not provide any guidance as to what shops should be wary of—because it's still unknown what product, brand, substance or combination of substances have been causing the illnesses.

Sidelinger confirmed that particular products used by the victims are being sought out and sent to federal health agencies for testing.

"The product or products causing this are still under investigation," said Sidelinger.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.