Sixth vaping-related death in the US

A sixth person has died from an unknown lung illness thought to be linked to vaping, causing officials in the US to urge people to stop.

Officials in Kansas said the 55-year-old woman had a history of underlying health issues, but made clear vaping contributed to her rapid deterioration.

They did not have details on the vape product the woman, who died on Saturday, was using.

She woman suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, which occurs when the lungs fill with fluid.

"She had some underlying medical illnesses, but nothing that would have foretold the fact that within a week after starting using e-cigarettes for the first time, she developed full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome and died," Dr Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said.

There have been more than 450 possible cases in 33 US states of lung disease related to vaping. Credit: AP

In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified over 450 possible cases in 33 states of lung disease due to vaping, with victims varying from teenagers to those in their mid-50s.

Health officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are trying to determine the cause behind the illnesses.

A Congressional hearing is scheduled on the matter for later this month.

Five other people in Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and California have reportedly died from vaping-related causes.

The deaths and illnesses have not been attributed to any one brand.

New York state has cracked down on vaping following the sicknesses and deaths.

The state will require health warning signs in shops that sell vaping devices, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged people not to vape while investigations into the cause of the illnesses are ongoing.

"This is a frightening public health phenomenon," the Democrat told reporters at a Manhattan press conference Monday.

"Common sense says if you don't know what you are smoking, don't smoke it."

The warning signs will be required to go in any store that sells vaping products, and will read: "Vaping can expose you to toxic chemicals and kill you."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has cracked down on vaping. Credit: AP

What about vaping in the UK?

There are nearly three million people who use vapes in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) has campaigned for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes on the grounds they are 95% less harmful than tobacco products.

However, PHE has been accused by a leading British expert of ignoring mounting evidence about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.

Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, claimed the UK is “out of step” with other countries when it comes to messages concerning vaping safety.

He said San Francisco’s decision in June to become the first major US city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes was “sensible”.

There are nearly three million people who use e-cigarettes in the UK. Credit: PA

Professor McKee said e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a stop-smoking aid without greater awareness of the effects inhaling nicotine and flavoured chemicals can have.

“When we look at the evidence we do have, there’s enough grounds for serious concerns,” he said in April.

“The nicotine in e-cigarettes is not a harmless drug and then there all these other things such as flavourings that are inhaled.

“We haven’t had e-cigarettes for long enough to know the true effects.

“But when we look at the evidence we do have, there’s enough grounds for serious concerns."

In the UK all e-cigarette products must be notified by manufacturers to the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with detailed information including the listing of all ingredients.