First Nebraska Death Related to Vaping Illness Reported to DHHS

News Release
For Immediate Release: 9/30/2019

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356


LINCOLN – The first Nebraska death related to severe lung disease associated with e-cigarettes or vaping has been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The person was over 65 and from the Douglas County Health Department area. In addition to the death in Nebraska, there have been 12 deaths reported in 10 other states as part of a multistate outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Prior to the outbreak of lung injury associated with vaping in Wisconsin and Illinois this past August, vaping-associated lung injuries were unreported and not tracked by public health agencies," said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “Once the problem was recognized, states quickly ramped up surveillance and found current cases, but have also discovered cases that occurred before the August outbreak."

Public health officials said the death in Nebraska occurred in May.

The state currently has 11 cases of vaping-related illness and two under investigation. The majority are males. Age range is late teens to late 60s. Some of those affected were hospitalized.

DHHS has alerted Nebraska providers, advising them to consider vaping-related illness in patients presenting with respiratory symptoms and a history of vaping, and to report those suspected cases to their local health department or DHHS. The Department is working with local health departments, the CDC and other states to investigate and study any reported case to combine all findings at the national level to come up with a complete picture of this health problem.

While investigation of devices and products is ongoing, CDC has recommended the public consider not using e-cigarettes or vaping products, particularly those containing THC. Additionally, youth, young adults, and women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarettes or vaping products. For more information about e-cigarettes, go to

Resources are available for Nebraskans who would like some help quitting nicotine-containing products (cigarettes, chew, or e-cigarettes) or tobacco.

Resources include:

  • Talking to your healthcare provider about your desire to quit.
  • Calling the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) for Spanish Services. Translation services are also available in more than 170 languages. The Quitline's evidence-based combination of free and confidential coaching and a free two-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy helps set tobacco-users up to quit.
  • Checking your insurance benefits to see what treatment plans are covered and what additional benefits you qualify for.
  • For additional resources and to learn more about the Nebraska Tobacco Quitline, visit


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