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A 2nd Mass. Woman Has Died Of Vaping-Related Illness, Health Officials Say

A Middlesex County woman in her 40s has died of a lung injury related to vaping nicotine, state health officials say, marking the state's second confirmed death related to the illness.

Earlier this month, a Hampshire County woman in her 60s became the first person in Massachusetts to die from the illness, the Department of Public Health confirmed.

The announcement comes as the number of cases of the vaping-related injury continues to rise, according to the DPH. The state has reported 20 confirmed cases and an additional 41 probable cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half the patients are under age 30.

"I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a second patient from this lung injury,’’ Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. "While we continue to work with our federal partners to investigate the cause of these vaping-associated lung injuries, we cannot at this time attribute a single substance or product to this outbreak of illness.”

The CDC's latest analysis found there have been at least 34 deaths related to the illness nationwide.

The CDC also says vaping devices containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana -- in particular, those obtained off the street or from other informal sources — have been linked to most of the cases and have played a "major role in the outbreak."

Of the cases in Massachusetts, the DPH says 30% of patients reported vaping only nicotine, 39% said they vaped THC and 25% reported using both.

Gov. Charlie Baker imposed a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products last month and filed additional paperwork this week to fulfill a judge's request and ensure it stays in place.

The ban is also being challenged in court by two groups of vape shop owners who argue it's destroying their businesses.

The Baker administration estimates the ban could cost businesses up to $8 million in sales.

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Laney Ruckstuhl Twitter Digital Producer
Laney Ruckstuhl is a freelance digital producer.

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