WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - With hundreds of vaping-related illnesses and 5 deaths, federal agencies and now the state of New York are warning people to stop vaping while health officials investigate what's causing the problem.
"Our advice, our guidance is quite simple. Don't do it. Don't do it because we do not know that it is safe," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced the state Department of Health will be issuing subpoenas to three companies marketing and selling "thickening agents" used in black market vaping products that could be causing the problems.
Cuomo says the state also will require shops that sell vaping products to post a warning and the governor is proposing legislation that would ban flavored e-cigarettes.
"It's attracting thousands of young people to an activity and again we don't know exactly what they're smoking or what the consequences are," said Cuomo.
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says there have been 41 patients in New York who were using at least one cannabis-containing vape product. Zucker says the state has found high levels of Vitamin E acetate in samples they have tested.
Matthew Salter, who is the general manager for Clouds Over Vape shops in the north country and the owner of an e-liquid compliance company, says it's important to point out that it's not all vape products causing problems.
"E-liquid, like we sell here, nicotine e-liquid, that's not what's causing these issues. These are made in lab controlled environments, they're held to strict testing standards. We make sure that what's going in is not going to harm another human being. The issues that's presenting the lung illnesses is actually black market THC cartridges," said Salter.
Public health officials say they aren't aware of any cases in the north country. But they want people to be alert.
“If you are using e-cigarettes of any type that if you have any of the symptoms, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, fever, nausea, any of those type of symptoms that have developed over a short period of time or even a few weeks, you see your provider about those to make sure you’re not having a reaction to the e-cigarettes,” said Jefferson County Public Health Planner Faith Lustik.