A 17-year-old boy from the Bronx was the first New Yorker to die of a vaping-related illness last week, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"This vaping is a public health crisis. It is affecting our young people. It has been marketed to young people," Cuomo told reporters at an unrelated press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The state Department of Health says they have received 110 reports from physicians in the state of severe pulmonary illness among patients between the ages of 14 and 69 who had used "as least one vape product prior to becoming ill." Nationwide, the CDC has reported more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related illnesses, and 18 confirmed deaths.

According to the DOH, the teenager was hospitalized in early September for "a vaping-associated respiratory illness," and readmitted in late September. He died on October 4.

A spokesperson for the city Office of the Chief Medical Examiner referred a question to City Hall. A spokesperson for the Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Initially, Vitamin E acetate added to THC-oil, bootleg vaping products was suspected to be the culprit causing the severe lung illnesses.

But a recent study from the Mayor Clinic seems to have ruled that out:

...Dr. Larsen said the Mayo researchers saw no signs of oil accumulating in the lung tissue. Instead, they saw many immune cells called macrophages with what he described as “the fine, foamy-looking appearance that is characteristic of chemical injuries.”

“So maybe we need to look more closely at the chemical compounds, and not just oils, but the chemical constituents, to figure out which ones are injurious,” Dr. Larsen said.

Governor Cuomo's attempted ban on flavored vaping products, which are extremely popular with teenagers and young children, has been stalled by court challenges from e-cigarette trade groups. The parties are set to meet in court again on October 18.

Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 78% increase in vaping among high school students.

E-cig usage among high school students.

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E-cig usage among high school students.
Clarisa Diaz, Gothamist/WNYC

"The federal government should act. The President had talked about taking action," Cuomo said. "I don't know how many people have to die before he takes action, but the State is already taking aggressive action."