'This issue is much bigger:' Number of vape-related lung injuries grows throughout US

MILWAUKEE -- The number of vape-related lung injuries has increased -- reaching almost every state across the country. Now, new statistics are coming out just as local doctors discuss the epidemic with lawmakers.

Since mid-June, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has seen 17 patients with suspected vape-related illnesses.

On Thursday afternoon, Oct. 10, doctors met with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin to discuss the cases -- and what happens next.

Senator Tammy Baldwin

"One of the things that I did after learning of your work was to call upon the CDC to activate an emergency operations center," Baldwin said.

As this meeting took place, the CDC released an update on the number of national cases. The CDC says there are 1,299 reported lung injuries from vaping across 49 states.

"And 26 people have now died," Baldwin said.

Doctors back a measure making its way through the state legislature that would increase Wisconsin's smoking age from 18 to 21.

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin was one of the first in the country to identify the vaping problem and pattern. It prompted a warning from the City of Milwaukee Health Department to stop vaping immediately.

Senator Mitt Romney

"About 90 percent of those who got sick from vaping had adulterated products. Another words, people had put in THC along with some other agents to cut it," said Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who is holding a similar forum in Utah.

Earlier this month, thousands of illegal THC vape cartridges were seized in a massive Milwaukee drug bust. Local doctors could not say how many cases here were made worse with drugs.

"We shouldn't be just focusing on the effects of just one chemical on one patient. This issue is much bigger than that," said Dr. Mike Meyer, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Medical professionals and Senator Baldwin point to San Francisco as a successful model to tackle this problem. That city recently passed a ban on e-cigarette sales.

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin