WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration are warning the public not to use e-cigarettes in response to a growing number of lung illnesses.

The CDC said during a Friday press conference that a new report shows there could be as many as 450 cases of chronic lung disease linked to vaping across more than two dozen states — and that the number is growing each week. At least three people have died as a result this year.

“E-cigarettes are not safe,” Erika Sward of the American Lung Association said, adding that federal health officials should have taken vaping products off the shelves long ago. “The American Lung Association has been warning of the dangers of e-cigarettes for more than a decade.”

The CDC says it is working with researchers in Illinois and Wisconsin to figure out exactly what it is that’s making vapers sick.

Separately, new unconfirmed research shows a chemical derived from Vitamin E found in some vaping liquids may be causing the problems.

In Michigan earlier this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took matters into her own hands as she ordered the state’s health department to write rules banning the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products. Doctors were thrilled, but legal challenges from the vaping industry seem inevitable.

“It’s like finding contaminated lettuce and banning peanut butter,” Mike Hogan of Smoke Free Alternatives, a vaping lobby firm in Washington, D.C., said Friday. “E-cigarettes are safe, have been used by millions of people over a decade with no illnesses whatsoever.”

E-cigarettes and vaping liquids are largely unregulated and there’s been little research about the long-term health effects.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, have called on the FDA to completely ban flavored nicotine e-cigarette products. On Friday, he released a statement saying that if the agency’s acting commissioner doesn’t do something about vaping in the next 10 days, he’ll call for his resignation.


CDC on e-cigarettes