Massachusetts

2nd Person in Mass. Dies of Vaping-Related Illness

The Department of Public Health said the person was a woman in her 40s from Middlesex County

Massachusetts health officials say a second state resident has died from a vaping-related lung illness.

The Department of Public Health announced Wednesday the second resident was a woman in her 40s from Middlesex County. The state previously said a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County had died of a vaping-related illness.

"I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a second patient from this lung injury,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. "While we continue to work with our federal partners to investigate the cause of these vaping-associated lung injuries, we cannot at this time attribute a single substance or product to this outbreak of illness."

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The DPH said both deaths were attributed to the use of nicotine vaping products.

No additional information was released.

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a pubic health emergency on Sept. 24 in relation to the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, which has resulted in 61 cases from Massachusetts being referred to the Centers for Disease Control for review.

Businesses seeking to overturn the ban argued that the governor overstepped his executive authority and violated the state constitution's separation of powers, causing irreparable harm to vape shop owners who were put at risk of going out of business.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet identified the cause of the lung injuries or the ingredients that may be to blame, but the agency did say last week that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been present in most samples tested and most patients affected have reported vaping THC.

Earlier this week, the Department of Public Health filed an emergency regulation with the secretary of state's office to comply with a Superior Court judge's ruling while keeping the first-in-the-nation ban on vaping products from lifting.

Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins had ruled last week that the governor pursue an emergency regulation or allow sales of nicotine vaping products to resume next week. He said the Baker administration had likely exceeded its executive authority by using the declaration of a public health emergency to issue a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products.

The court order applied only to nicotine vaping products. The sale of marijuana vaporizers continue to be banned while legal challenges move through the courts.

Wilkins gave the administration until Oct. 28 to reissue the ban as an emergency regulation.

Unlike the ban Baker tried to issue under his emergency powers, using the regulatory process will result in Baker's ban being shortened to three months. His administration will also have to hold a pubic hearing before Dec. 24, and draft a small business impact statement.

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