(KCNC/CNN) – Another death from lung disease related to vaping was announced Tuesday in Kansas. This now brings the total number of deaths to six, prompting authorities around the country to put out warnings regarding e-cigarette use.
For more than two years, Piper Johnson vaped regularly. But everything changed when a visit to urgent care revealed a sudden and severe lung illness.
“All the stuff that I’ve been doing, like the past two years that I thought was completely harmless, has silently been killing me,” Johnson said.
Johnson is alive to tell her story but according to health officials, six others around the country are not.
Erika Sward is the American Lung Association’s assistant vice president of National Advocacy. She said, “Tragically, e-cigarettes are comprised of chemicals that are being inhaled into the lungs. They’ve always had chemicals in them but we do not yet know what is causing this outbreak and the diseases that have been reported as part of this epidemic.”
There are at least 450 cases of severe lung disease potentially linked to vaping. Some of these cases are still under investigation.
Sward explained, “It’s really important that people understand that these are unregulated and new products on the market and there’s a lot that we just don’t know about them yet.”
The deaths were reported in Kansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon. But officials in other states also raising concerns
Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department said, “Vaping is not cool. Cigarette smoking is not cool.”
Dr. Maria Rahmandar works at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She said, “I have personally seen the use of e-cigarettes among my adolescent patients skyrocket.”
Johnson says for her it wasn’t worth it and is thankful for an early diagnosis and treatment. “I try and, you know, educate other people because I don’t want the same thing to happen to them.”