Advocates sound the alarm about vaping dangers on Capitol Hill

Advocates sound the alarm on vaping

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced a four-month ban on vaping after declaring a state health emergency. At a hearing on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they expect hundreds of more cases of vaping-related illnesses to be announced this week.

A mother told Congress Tuesday about her daughter's near-death experience after vaping.

"I'll never forget watching her cry that she literally couldn't breathe without excruciating pain as she was pumped full of IV fluids, antibiotics, steroids, pain meds and a diuretic to clear fluid from her badly inflamed lungs," said Ruby Johnson.

Her 18-year-old daughter, Piper, is one of 530 people in 38 states sickened by a mysterious illness related to vaping. Piper recovered, but nine people have died so far.

No specific product has been identified yet as the cause of potentially life-long lung damage. With half of the cases occurring in people under 25, alarm bells are ringing from classrooms to Capitol Hill where Anne Schuchat of the CDC was testifying.

"We do hope that the seriousness of disease, including death, is getting attention. But there is a lot of competing messages," Schuchat said, in response to questioning from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

Dr. David O'Dell, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said vaping has changed the way physicians work.

"As we're learning more and more particularly about the near term and potential long term dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use, it's now a question I ask patients routinely," O'Dell said.

Right now, the CDC is calling on people to consider refraining from vaping. But one congressman said Tuesday that was too weak, and that the government should simply say vaping can cause death.

  • Dean Reynolds
    Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.