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CDC Launches Investigation Into Nearly 100 Illnesses Linked To Vaping

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Vaping could be to blame for nearly 100 severe lung illnesses across the country.

Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an investigation into 94 cases involving e-cigarette users in 14 states, including New York and New Jersey.

It seems you see people puffing away on their vapes everywhere lately, but some are now putting them away for good, CBS2's Reena Roy reports.

RELATED STORY: Study Suggests Teens Who Vape Have No Idea How Much Nicotine They Are Getting And Related Dangers

"I'll see people on the street and I'll be like, ah, I wish I had a Juul, but health first," Upper West Side resident Casey Ryan said.

Ryan says she vaped for two years, but she quit a few months ago because of breathing problems.

"It's so addictive, so nobody wants to stop," she said. "My lungs are a little messed up right now ... Like, shortness of breath."

(Credit: CBS)

Thankfully, she was able to stop before things got worse, but unfortunately, Florida teen Chance Ammirata didn't. He faced a medical emergency and believes it was caused by his Juul, an e-cigarette brand he started using a year and a half ago.

"It felt like I was genuinely having a heart attack," Ammirata said. "I just freaked out and they say, 'Your lung has collapsed. You have to go to surgery right now.'"

Ammirata's surgeon told CBS News the teen's lungs were inflamed, which could have come from something he'd been inhaling.

He's now launched a social media campaign to encourage others to quit.

Juul declined to comment on his case but said it is monitoring reports of the other widespread lung injuries.

The New Jersey Department of Health says it's investigating nine severe lung illnesses in people who have vaped. In New York, there are 11 reported cases. Both states have issued health alerts.

RELATED STORY: Unexplained Vaping-Associated Illnesses Prompt Health Advisory In New York

"Vaping came out as an alternative [to smoking cigarettes], so kids in their mind think it's safer to do," clinic psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner said.

Stratyner says people who vape are not exposed to tar, but they're still being exposed to nicotine and possibly other unknown, harmful substances.

Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer of Children's Minnesota Hospitals, says her doctors have been treating four boys and girls, ages 16-18, with acute lung injuries. She says her patients decline rapidly in just a week.

"They go from healthy adolescents to really in a life-threatening situation," she said.

Experts say a lot more research still needs to be done to find out the long-term health effects of these products.

The American Vaping Association takes the position that it's not nicotine, but illegal drugs or THC, an ingredient in marijuana, that likely caused those injuries.

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