MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Health officials in Illinois are confirming what could be the first death related to vaping in the United States.

The patient who died on Friday had contracted a serious lung disease after using the smoking alternative.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 193 cases of people who developed some type of respiratory illness after vaping or using an e-cigarette. There are four confirmed cases in Minnesota, with 11 more under investigation. It is creating urgency to warn people about the dangers of vaping.

This year at the Minnesota State Fair, MN Adult & Teen Challenge organizers are really trying to get to parents and teens and get across some very sobering statistics — like the fact one in five teens has tried vaping.

Amber Hewitt knows the throws of addiction well.

“I spent five years using meth every day, you know, stealing, lying to get more drugs. It just became the focus of my whole being,” Hewitt said.

After going through recovery at MN Adult & Teen Challenge, she’s focused on educating teens and she says vaping is an epidemic.

“These adolescents are the guinea pig generation. Like, we don’t quite know yet what exactly the outcome is going to be or what the harmful effects are going to be,” she said.

So her colleagues decided the fair was the perfect place to spread the word.

“We are just seeing it become such an increasing trend with youth, not just because of the substance abuse, but also socially,” said Sadie Holland, who manages prevention education at MN Adult & Teen Challenge.

And on social media, according to recent high school graduate Emma Darula.

“People take really long hits and they blow the vape out,” Darula said.

And this display reveals more truths, like how this one bottle of vape liquid equals 1,000 cigarettes; a vape can look like a flash drive; a hoodie lace can be a secret vape.

And while the research is compiling, the hope as that as people get together, they will begin to get it.

To learn more about what vaping really looks like, come to the MN Adult and Teen Challenge booth at the state fair, or you can go to the Minnesota Department of Health building. Both are in the Education Building.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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