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Fifth person dies from vaping illness in Mass. as CDC reports ‘continued declines’ in new cases

Hollie Adams/Bloom

State health officials announced Wednesday that a fifth person has died from a vaping-related illness in Massachusetts.

The person was a man in his 40s from Suffolk County, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Officials did not say when he died.

The man reported vaping THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana. Officials did not say whether he purchased the product through a licensed dispensary or through the illicit market.

The man is among 46 confirmed cases of vaping-related illness in Massachusetts. Another 81 cases have been reported and are considered probable.

There have been 2,807 cases of vaping-related illnesses that have required hospitalizations nationwide, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Illnesses have been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

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“My condolences go out to the family of this patient who has died from a vaping-associated lung injury,’’ Monica Bharel, public health commissioner, said in a statement. “This tragedy reminds us of the dangers of vaping and the reasons we strengthened our laws regarding vaping products.”

Wednesday’s announcement from state health officials follows a Tuesday report from the CDC noting that there had been five vaping-related deaths in Massachusetts. The five deaths are among 68 that have been reported nationwide in 29 states and DC, the agency reported.

Massachusetts has seen among the highest frequency of deaths. Georgia and Indiana have each had six deaths, and Illinois has also had five.

The CDC did note, however, that there have been “continued declines” in new vaping-related illness cases since September. The agency said because of the declining reports, Tuesday’s report would be their final regular update on the illnesses and it would only “provide future updates as needed.”

Four other people have died in Massachusetts from vaping: a woman in her 40s from Middlesex County, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, a man in his 70s from Middlesex County, and a man in his 50s from Worcester County.

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Both women reported vaping nicotine only. The man from Middlesex County reported vaping THC, and the man from Worcester County reported vaping both.

State lawmakers in November passed a bill — touted at the time as the nation’s toughest on vaping — that banned the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including mint and menthol.

Meanwhile, the Cannabis Control Commission temporarily quarantined all cannabis vaping products, but later lifted part of that ban, keeping it in place only for products manufactured before Dec. 12.


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.