Romney hears from experts on 'vaping crisis' after Utah's 1st vape-related death

Sen. Mitt Romney spoke with Utah experts Thursday to discuss vaping illness and anti-vaping efforts. (Photo: Larry D. Curtis / KUTV)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) came to Utah Thursday to discuss the nation's "vaping crisis" and anti-vaping efforts.

The senator hosted a roundtable discussion at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital with local officials and health experts where they discussed two issues: the harm vaping is doing citizens and the proliferation of vaping among kids.

Those in attendance were:

  • Dr. Brian Shiozawa
  • Dr. Dixie Harris
  • Brian McGinley MD
  • Joni Hemond MD
  • Braden Ainsworth, Utah Department of Health
  • Marc Watterson, American Heart Association
  • Brook Carlisle, American Cancer Society
  • Utah Sen. Kirk Cullimore
  • Utah State Rep. Susan Pulsipher

The medical experts say they are telling patients, if they think they have the flu and they have been vaping, they should go to a hospital as soon as possible. Symptoms of the flu are similar to vaping-related lung illnesses.

“We don’t know the long term effects of vaping," one doctor told Romney.

While discussing the proliferation of vaping among students in Utah high schools, State Sen. Kirk Cullimore said, "they don't call them bathrooms, they call them vape rooms."

Romney says he hopes they can be very aggressive against the vaping epidemic.

The Utah Department of Health announced Wednesday that a Salt Lake County resident died from a vaping-related lung injury. The person had smoked THC and was not hospitalized prior to their death.

Seventy-six cases of vaping-related lung injuries, with 14 other potential cases, are currently under investigation in Utah. More than 90 percent of the patients were hospitalized and many of them required intensive care treatment. UDOH reports that 94% of the cases self-reported vaping THC products.

In September, Sen. Romney, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), introduced the ENND Act, which would regulate e-cigarette standards, prohibit non-tobacco flavors, ensure electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof and require a public campaign about the dangers of vaping, according to a press release. It would also apply to existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes.

The senators met with Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Norman Sharpless on Thursday, Sept. 19 about the agency's plan to ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors.

Romney encouraged the FDA on Sept. 10 to consider recalling all e-cigarettes as the agency was investigating--at the time--over 450 cases of vape-related lung disease and at least five deaths.

"I'm increasingly concerned that a generation of young people have been deceived into thinking e-cigarettes are safe," he tweeted.