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Two Army soldiers hospitalized for severe lung injuries from vaping

Sgt. 1st Class Bryson Briles (left) and Staff Sgt. Jorge Flechas enjoy a relaxing moment vaping before heading to class at U.S. Army Recruiting and Retention College Sept. 5, 2019. Briles said he vapes as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Flechas said he vapes for recreational purposes. Health officials say they suspect the more than 200 recent deaths and serious illnesses across a 25-state area in the United States are the result of vaping. (Eric Pilgrim/U.S. Army)
October 12, 2019

Two U.S. soldiers have been hospitalized and are being treated after suffering severe lung injuries they received reportedly from vaping, Army medical official confirmed Wednesday.

The two active-duty soldiers were being treated for symptoms that meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition for “vaping-related severe lung injury,” Chanel Weaver, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Public Health Center, told Military.com.

The Army didn’t release the names of the two soldiers, but Weaver said one case in the United States and the other is overseas.

About 1,000 lung injury cases associated with vaping have been reported to the CDC in 48 states and one U.S. territory, 18 of which have resulted in death as of Oct. 1.

The Army, Navy and Air Force banned the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products from exchange stores that went in full effect on Oct. 1.

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“Until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to collect information on e-cigarette and vape products is complete, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is removing these products from its assortment, effective close of business Sept. 30,” Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) spokesman Chris Ward told American Military News.

Although the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM)  never sold vaping products, it has banned all the vendors from its distribution in the future until further notice.

NEXCOM spokesperson Courtney Williams told American Military News that the decision “also prohibits NEX concessionaires or vendors from selling e-cigarettes or vaping products in any NEX location after Oct. 1.”

Additionally, the Trump administration is in the process of banning all flavored e-cigarette products because of their appeal to children.

“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” President Donald Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless. “People are dying from vaping, so we’re looking at it very closely.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is also working on legislation to raise the age to buy tobacco products to 21, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

“I hope my legislation will earn strong, bipartisan support in the Senate,” McConnell said. “I’m confident many of my colleagues will agree that protecting our young people from starting tobacco use at an early age can have remarkable, long-term health benefits for Kentucky and the country.”

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Notably, McConnell represents the state of Kentucky, which is one of the largest producers of tobacco in the country and also has the highest rate of lung cancer in the nation.