By Kimberly Davis


CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A woman from New Jersey has died from a vaping-related illness. It’s the state’s first death connected to vaping and e-cigarettes.

The smoking alternative is in the crosshairs of regulators and lawmakers.

Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez says there are more questions than answers surrounding the health risks associated with vaping. She believes until it can be regulated, vaping needs to be banned, or at least have some restrictions.

“I don’t have a whole lot of information, but I think that’s the biggest problem that we have right now. There is not a whole lot of information,” she said.

The lack of information is why Rodriguez believes New Jersey should follow the lead of Massachusetts in banning vaping statewide.

“Our young children, which are more sensitive to these types of contaminants — that could very problematic. I think we really need to do a lot more research and definitely we need to have some more control. Honestly, until we figure out what’s going on with this thing, I think we just need to stop,” Rodriguez said.

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Nationwide, 13 deaths have been connected to vaping.

But it’s important to note that, to date, there have been no reports of serious lung illnesses associated with vaping products sold in legal New Jersey medical marijuana dispensaries.

Thirty-two reports of severe lung illness are under investigation.

“That’s why we definitely need to look into this process. We need to put rules and regulations for it,” Rodriguez said.

These deaths have been linked to the use of THC vapor cartridges.

Some critics are concerned a major crackdown on vaping will only increase sales through the black market, but New Jersey officials are hopeful a ban would do more to keep people alive.

“If we put the message out, ‘you need to stop,’ they cannot openly use it in public places,” Rodriguez said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy created a special task force to address the epidemic and possibly regulate vaping. Its report is due this week.

Kimberly Davis