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Concerns over vaping continue to ramp up in King County, statewide

Vape from an e-cig. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Concerns over vaping continue to ramp up in King County and Washington, highlighted by statements from Executive Dow Constantine and the Washington State Health Department.

Durkan: ‘It’s time’ to discuss ban on e-cigarettes in Seattle

“With the recent surge in severe lung illnesses, and what we already know about the addictive products used in vaping, we can no longer be hampered in protecting the health of our young people,” Constantine said in a Wednesday news release.

Joining that chorus was Washington’s health department, who matter-of-factly stated that “e-cigarettes and vaping are not safe.”

Those warnings come amid the state’s first confirmed case of vaping-related lung illness.

It involved a male in his late teens, who is recovering after being hospitalized in August. He reported vaping nicotine and saffron, using e-cigarettes over the past three years.

This all comes amid a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung disease. There are six confirmed deaths and roughly 450 suspected cases of lung disease. President Trump even indicated Wednesday that his administration will consider a ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Locally, Executive Constantine noted that King County would consider a similar ban, as well as a tax to discourage use among the youth population, “if it had authority.”

“It is imperative that the state take further action and expand regulations on tobacco and vaping products,” he said. “If the legislature is unwilling to strengthen statewide protections, then it must lift preemption.”

Back in early September, Seattle and King County Public Health issued a warning cautioning smokers on the associated risks of vaping.

King County issues warning against risks posed by vaping

This comes shortly after Milwaukee city officials issued a statement of their own, urging people to stop vaping immediately in the face of potential health risks. Meanwhile, the City of Seattle is weighing a vaping ban, akin to one passed in San Francisco earlier this summer.

“Bold move by San Francisco. It’s time to have this discussion in Seattle,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Tweeted back in June.

Recent data claims that while the overall teen smoking rate is at an all-time low, 20 percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle schoolers use e-cigarettes. Overall, that marks a 78 percent increase year-over-year.

Washington state recently raised the age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21.

KIRO Radio Staff contributed to this report

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