BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The number of people hospitalized with illnesses related to vaping is now more than 2,500. That includes people in all 50 states.

As of mid-December, 47 people in Maryland have been hospitalized; another ten were sickened but not hospitalized.

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Doctors say they simply don’t have enough data about which products are safe and which ones aren’t, and once you start vaping, it’s very difficult to stop.

Doctors also say kids are particularly susceptible because they become addicted to nicotine at a young age.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen long-term for kids who put chemicals in their lungs,” Dr. Scott Krugman, of Sinani Hospital, said.

J.R. — who asked WJZ to conceal his identity — is one person in Maryland whose life has been forever changed by vaping. In an exclusive interview, he says he almost died after using a bad tank with his vape pen.


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“I can’t take a deep breath when I first wake up,” he said. “All I feel is tearing in my lungs.”

His near-death experience came with severe symptoms including constant vomiting, high fever and his body literally shutting down.

Public health officials say the main culprit is Vitamin E acetate, which is found in some vaping products.

“No one is regulating how much of a certain chemical is put in and which chemicals to put in,” Krugman said.

The US Food and Drug Administration reportedly plans to ban the sales of all flavored cartridges. These products are particularly popular among kids.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends consumers stop vaping, particularly those using THC products or anything bought off the street.

Rachel Menitoff