HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Officials in Connecticut are calling for a ban on e-cigarettes after six deaths were believed to be linked to vaping.
On Friday, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro blasted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA for failing to protect people.
She’s now urging the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control for an all-out ban on the products.
"This is dangerous. 25 percent of our young people are vaping,” DeLauro said.
While saying the products are harmful, she said the FDA was supposed to do testing before letting the products be sold.
"Both administrations, and the Food and Drug Administration, our regulatory agency, have a product on the market that's illegal,” DeLauro said.
Both former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump’s administration have delayed action, and DeLauro said in the meantime, hundreds are getting sick and some have even died.
Health officials continue to call vaping a serious health concern and are warning people to stop using vaping products until their effects can be further studied.
"Nicotine is more addictive than alcohol, more addictive than cannabis, more addictive than most substances,” said Dr. J. Craig Alan, chief medical officer at Rushford Behavioral Health.
He treats people with addictions and said children are getting hooked on vaping and e-cigarettes. He said some of the products have the equivalent level of nicotine as two packs of cigarettes.
However, there are folks who are using vape and e-cigarette products as a way to quit smoking cigarettes.
"if someone is trying to stop smoking, they should use their health care provider. You should use evidence-based approach including FDA approved medications and nicotine patches and gums and so forth,” Alan said.
In addition to the six people who have died, more than 450 people were hospitalized nationwide with cases of severe lung disease, according to the Department of Public Health.
Seven of those case were in Fairfield County, three were in New Haven County and one was in New London County.
In Connecticut, the victims ranged from ages 15 to 50. Some have already been released from the hospital.
A local vape shop owner said she welcomes testing but still feels vaping is a safer alternative to smoking.
"Being a 28-year smoker that wreaked havoc on my lungs, vaping has allowed me a higher lung capacity and vaping has improved the quality of my life," said Christine Mazzotta, who opened Vapor 9 in 2013.
"All of these products have been registered with the FDA. All of our ingredient lists are due as of May 2020. To say nothing is being done or the FDA is doing nothing is simply false," she added.
She also said a ban would create an enormous black market.
Joe Voelker was a smoker for 5 years and switched to e-cigarettes because he thought it was healthier.
"I breath better and not to be gross but I started coughing things up when I started stopping,” Voelker said.
He said he didn’t feel good when he smoked or vaped and he quit. He learned a lot about his own addiction and now provides counseling to other helps live healthier lives.
He also realized when it comes to vaping, you tend to do it more often and inhale more nicotine because of it.
"With the e-cig you can do it at the computer, you can do it in the kitchen, you can do it anywhere, and it’s just water vapor so you don't mind that it’s in your home,” Voelker said.
Doctors say it’s not just water in the vapor, but that there are chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy metals, and those around you can also be affected.
Starting Oct. 1, a new law will only allow those 21 and older to buy these products in Connecticut.