Health officials caution against all vape products as investigation into lung illnesses continues

Products prescribed through Minnesota's medical cannabis program are not implicated

THC vape cartridges
The New York State Department of Health has found lung disease associated with illicit vape cartridges like these.
Courtesy of New York State Department of Health file

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed the first death in the state due to what it’s calling "serious lung injuries related to vaping." The department has also linked 22 cases of lung illness to vaping, and is investigating another 15.

Many of the cases appear to be linked to illicit THC products, but Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physician’s Mill City Clinic, told MPR News host Tom Crann people should avoid all vaping products until investigations are complete.

The Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued similar warnings. None apply to products available through the state’s medical cannabis program, Hallberg said.

He also cautioned using vaping as a means to quit smoking, even after investigations wrap up.

“These are unregulated products, and when you do not regulate something, you don’t know what you’re getting. There’s concern there may be heavy metals in there, oils that can get into the lungs. That in fact might be part of the problem that’s landing people in hospitals,” Hallberg said. “So, it’s totally just a ‘buyer beware’ kind of situation.”

Hallberg said your primary care physician or pharmacist can help you find alternatives to quit smoking.

To hear the full conversation, click play on the audio player above.

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