The state’s Department of Health and Human Services has reported New Hampshire’s first case of lung injury connected to e-cigarette use or vaping.
“The individual was an adult from Sullivan County, who developed respiratory symptoms and had chest imaging showing evidence of lung injury, consistent with other cases reported nationally,” a news release from the DHHS said. “This person reported recent vaping of nicotine products. The individual was hospitalized but has since been discharged.”
In addition to raising the state’s smoking age to 19, which Gov. Chris Sununu has indicated should help prevent use among high schoolers, New Hampshire’s new budget tightens regulations on vaping products at a time when such cases have increased across the country.
The most recent data available on the national CDC website states, “1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping products have been reported to CDC from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 1 U.S. territory.” In addition, “Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.”
The vast majority of the vaping injuries were among individuals using products with THS, the ingredient in marijuana that produces a high.
In New Hampshire, new legislation now prevents any device that can operate as a vape, even if not loaded, from being sold to anyone younger than 18.
A new tax on different types of e-cigarette products is also part of the budget. For closed cartridges or containers of liquid that are not intended to be opened, the rate is “$0.30 per milliliter on the volume of the liquid or other substance in the cartridge,” according to the HB4 text on the Legislature website.
For containers meant to be opened, the tax is 8 percent of the wholesale sales price.
Small businesses have voiced opposition to the new tax.
“Vaping-associated lung injury is a national problem, and unfortunately New Hampshire is the latest state to be included in the national outbreak investigation,” Dr. Benjamin Chan, state epidemiologist, said in the DHHS news release. “The ongoing investigation into these illnesses has not yet identified a specific cause. And even though a majority of patients report vaping THC products, some have reported only vaping nicotine products. Until we have more information from the national investigation, no vaping is considered safe.”