Connecticut’s 3rd District Representative Rosa DeLauro is calling for all e-cigarettes and vaping products to be taken off the market as concern grows about a mystery respiratory illness linked to their use.
"We now have indications that this product is causing people to be ill or to die," said DeLauro, speaking on Connecticut's Public Radio's Where We Live.
So far there have been more than 450 reported cases of the mystery disease in 33 states across the country, and six reported deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Connecticut, the state Department of Public Health has logged 11 cases where patients have been hospitalized. All the Connecticut patients are now recovering.
The illness, which includes symptoms of shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea, has not been definitively linked to any one vaping product or ingredient.
DeLauro is vice chair of a House subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration, which has been regulating e-cigarettes since 2009.
She said the Trump administration's recent proposal to ban non-tobacco flavors of vaping products is welcome, but it's not enough.
She believes the early regulation imposed on e-cigarettes to guarantee safety has been ignored, and the products are now on the market illegally.
“E-cigarettes had to go through something called a pre-market review, that means that their health and safety had to be reviewed before they could come to the market," said DeLauro. "The FDA has side-stepped that. And so the product is on the market illegally, and until we know whether it is safe or not safe for people, and not putting them at risk, they should be off the market.”
Connecticut's DPH is urging consumers not to use any vaping products until the cause of the illness can be determined.