ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - A doctor for St. Louis Children's Hospital tells News 4 two patients were treated this week for vaping-related lung illness.
“These patients will present with acute shortness of breath, cough, fever, sometimes weight loss, sometimes nausea and a few of them have been quite ill," said Dr. Tom Ferkol with St. Louis Children's Hospital, who helped treat the patients. “These are individuals who previously didn’t have any lung problems.”
Wednesday, President Trump announced his administration will propose banning thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes to combat a recent surge in underage vaping.
It comes as health officials say a sixth person has died from vaping-related lung disease.
“We’ve been in business since 2012. Zero sickness, zero death, zero anything and now all of a sudden they are coming out of the woodwork. There’s gotta be a reason and it’s not the vape stores, it’s what they are doing in the streets," said John Huck, who owns E-Cig Mania in Fenton.
Huck says sales at his store's three locations are down at least 60 percent since the CDC linked the nationwide outbreak to e-cigarette products two weeks ago.
“If we were hurting people or killing people, I’d shut these doors today because I’m not doing this for the money anymore. I’m doing this to get people off cigarettes," said Huck.
There's debate over whether THC or Vitamin E found in some vaping products may be to blame for the lung illness cases, though Ferkol says no one really knows.
“It could be related to THC or something that is within the THC product. It could be related to something that someone is cooking up in their garage, but frankly it could also be something you are purchasing over the counter at a store," said Ferkol.
He supports President Trump's proposed ban on e-cigarette flavors, which Ferkol believes is targeting kids. Huck says he carries flavors for adult users.
“They don’t want to vape nasty tobacco flavors, that’s what got them off cigarettes to begin with. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you don’t like flavors," said Huck.
Huck says banning flavors would put him and other vape shops out of business.
“If it’s one thing that we know, certainly among adolescent use of e-cigarettes, the primary reason why these kids use these products is because of the flavor," said Ferkol.
The CDC recommends anyone who uses e-cigarettes and experiences a cough, nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or weight loss to see a doctor as soon as possible.