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Horrifying Details Emerge As Deadly NJ Vaping Outbreak Grows

NEW JERSEY – Horrifying details have emerged in individual cases as the deadly New Jersey vaping sickness outbreak continues to rise sharply.

The number of possible cases has risen by 33 percent since the state announced the first New Jersey death associated with the national vaping outbreak on Oct. 1.

In one such case, a 21-year-old Monmouth County woman said she thought she was going to die after she got sick, according to The Record. Kerri Chonsky ended spending two weeks in the hospital with what doctors thought was initially pneumonia; it turns out she was suffering from “chemical burns.”

The vaping cases have been primarily in North and Central Jersey. The death, involving an adult woman from northern New Jersey, was reported to the department in August. The incident was also reported when Gov. Phil Murphy announced the creation of the Electronic Smoking Device Task Force on Sept. 12.

“The New Jersey Department of Health is saddened to announce a death associated with this outbreak. This death underscores the potential dangers associated with vaping,” said Acting Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who chairs the Governor’s Electronic Smoking Device Task Force.

The tragedy comes as the number of possible cases in New Jersey has risen to 43, according to the CDC and the state Department fo Health. Thirteen of the cases involved women and 30 were men.

The age range of all cases and reports under investigation is between 15 and 51 years of ages.

To date, there have been no reports of serious lung illness associated with products sold in dispensaries permitted by the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program.

In Kerri Chonsky’s case, she started smoking cigarettes when she was 17 or 18, and wanted a safer alternative. Two years later, what doctors first thought was pneumonia turned out to be “chemical burns “on her lungs — injuries that sparked shaking and cold sweats, eventually sending her to the hospital, according to The Record.

Nationally, there are now more than 1,200 confirmed – and probable cases of severe lung illnesses in 49 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have been approximately 26 deaths in 21 states.

The outbreak also comes as at least four lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey against e-cigarette makers, all claiming that the product has hooked a new generation of young people to a potentially dangerous substance.

One New Jersey user reportedly talked about vomiting up blood. Others said they’ve become hopelessly addicted and perpetually sick. Read more: NJ’s Vaping Sicknesses Nearly Double In Growing 25-State Outbreak

Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, has introduced legislation, S-3265, that would make New Jersey the second state after Michigan to prohibit the sale or distribution of flavored electronic smoking devices and related products. Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, has authored a bill to limit the sales of e-cigarettes.

“The health and safety and even the lives of young people are at risk,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “The flavored products are targeted at teenagers and young adults with the intent of luring them into addiction.

“We should not allow another generation to get addicted to a product that lowers life expectancy and seriously damages their heart and lungs. Here is a product that we know is seriously harming the health of users, especially our youth.”

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, and a 2015 report from the National Health Interview Survey found that 40 percent of young e-cigarette users were never smokers before trying e-cigarettes.

State health departments, the CDC and the FDA are still investigating the possible causes of the lung injuries, but based on information at this time, e-cigarettes or vaping products should never be used by youths, young adults, pregnant women, or by adults who do not currently use tobacco products.

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