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With growing concerns over illness potentially linked to vaping, JUUL Labs responds

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File - In this Aug. 28, 2019, file photo, a man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. Oregon's public health physician said Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, that a person who contracted a severe respiratory illness and died after using an e-cigarette had purchased a vaping device containing marijuana oil at a state-legal dispensary. The death is the second linked by public health officials nationwide to vaping and the first linked to an e-cigarette purchased at a dispensary. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Vaping is the public health discussion right now across the United States. In 33 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team says it's aware of more than 450 possible cases of people allegedly getting sick after vaping.

The FDA has also issued a warning letter to JUUL, accusing them of illegally marketing their product as a safer alternative to cigarettes. "This appears to be occurring predominantly in younger people. It's too early to say if there is a physiology difference between younger people and older people, or maybe that the younger people are vaping different substances or there's some other reason why this is predominately in younger people," said Dr. David Persse from the Houston Health Department during a press conference.

ABC6/FOX28 talked to the Ohio Department of Health's director Tuesday. ODH announced new initiatives to prevent and reduce youth vaping. Their team says state and local health leaders have confirmed 10 reports of severe pulmonary illness after vaping, potentially linked to vaping, right here in Ohio.

"This is absolutely a public health crisis. We've been saying this for months," said Dr. Amy Acton, ODH's Director.

ABC6/FOX28 talked to people across Columbus about whether alerts on potential vaping dangers are having an impact on their own choices. "Not really, that like I know of everybody keeps doing their thing," said Tarayle Glick.

Glick said he vapes occasionally.

"At the end of the day like for me I don't really care about the health risks, like I just enjoy smoking cigarettes, so if you want to vape go for it, but I mean it is not exactly healthy, just acknowledge that," he said.

One young man said he stopped vaping recently. "I did it for a couple weeks and kind of didn't really feel very good," said Kenny Henegar, "so I threw the device out and ever since then I have been great."

ABC6/FOX28 reached out to industry leader JUUL Labs, who sent this statement:

"JUUL Labs, which exists to help adult smokers switch off of combustible cigarettes, has been monitoring the situation closely. To be clear, the ingredients of our products do not include THC, any compound derived from cannabis, or vitamin E compounds like those found in THC products. We appreciate the work of the CDC, FDA and other public health authorities and are confident that they will get to the bottom of this issue."

JUUL has said in the past that they have been building on a national program to cut back on underage use.

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