Federal health officials have activated emergency measures to tackle the recent spate of lung illnesses blamed on electronic cigarettes.
“CDC has made it a priority to find out what is causing this outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping-related injuries and deaths,” the organization’s head, Dr. Robert Redfield, said Monday.
Redfield said activating the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center lets experts give additional support to the agency’s staff “working to protect our nation from this serious health threat.”
As of Monday, the CDC was investigating 380 confirmed or suspected cases of vaping-related lung illness, including six deaths.
Health experts have been unable to pinpoint an exact cause, including a specific brand or ingredient in e-cigarettes, but are urging all e-cigarette users to stop.
The devices have been marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Federal regulators have warned the largest e-cigarette maker, JUUL, against making such claims, saying they have not been proved.
Also Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newson announced a $20 million statewide campaign to stop young people from taking up the e-cigarette habit.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s health commissioner plans to ban fruit and candy flavored e-cigarettes, which appeal to youths. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also announced similar plans.