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Vaping, Justin Wilson
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Outlook good for Portland man almost killed by vaping-related illness

Justin Wilson was hospitalized for total respiratory failure. (Justin Wilson, courtesy photo)

A recent rash of vaping-related illnesses has officials both in Washington state and across the country weighing a complete ban on the popular method of smoking. One such illness was found in a Portland man, Justin Wilson.

The 25-year-old Wilson collapsed to the floor out of the blue one day, and experiencing what doctors called total respiratory failure. While in a coma at the hospital, the outlook was grim, with doctors labeling his condition as “vaping toxicity.”

“The first few doctors were asking if (my family) wanted chaplains — I was basically gone,” Wilson told KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show.

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

While many illnesses traced back to vaping have been the result of homemade or off-brand vape juice, Wilson almost exclusively used products from the biggest name in the industry in, Juul.

“It was never an off-the-street buy; it was a select cartridge from a dispensary, typically the one right across the street from my work,” he described.

In total, federal health officials have identified 380 cases of vaping-related illnesses across 36 states and the Virgin Islands. Six of those cases have been fatal, seen in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon.

The exact cause of these illnesses largely remains a mystery, but it’s believed that it can be traced by to a chemical in vape juice called Vitamin E acetate.

As a result, President Donald Trump — as well as officials the local level in King County and Seattle — have made it clear they intend to look into a possible ban on vaping products altogether. That’s a move Wilson doesn’t see as wise.

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

“There’s no way we should ban on the whole thing,” he noted. “There’s still an opioid crisis. People die from cigarettes every year and those aren’t banned. I don’t think the whole thing needs to be banned because six people passed. I mean, there’s half a million deaths from cigarettes every year, and you can still go buy a pack of smokes.”

Wilson’s prognosis is positive moving forward, especially now that’s no longer smoking one to two Juul pods a day.

“No cigarettes, no vapes for me,” he promised. “My friends can do it, and that’s great, but there’s no way I can.”

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