U.S sees six deaths related to vaping

South Dakota Department of Health reported two cases of vaping related illness this week. (KOTA TV)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - On Tuesday, another vaping-related death was announced in Kansas, bringing the total up to six deaths in the U.S. The concern is creeping into South Dakota with vaping related illnesses affecting young adults.

Two cases of illnesses related to vaping were confirmed this week by the South Dakota Department of Health. Now, 33 states have reported severe respiratory illness coming from e-cigarettes.

"We don't understand what's happening with this new epidemic of diseases with vaping. My concern is it's the tip of the iceberg. That we may instead of having a few hundred cases we may see thousands in the near future," Dr. Allen Nord, Medical Arts Clinic Family Physician said.

However Kevin Quick, the Down Ohm Vapors shop owner, said the six deaths related to vaping can be traced to black market purchases.

"E-cigarettes have nothing to do with this. It's all about black market THC vaporizers," Quick said.

He said people are buying THC cartridges off the black market and are changing the concentration in the vaporizer, making the vape liquid more harmful.

Though he understands the health concerns, Quick said the Center for Disease Control is just causing fear.

"If you ask the CDC they're playing the extremely safe mode and saying hey you shouldn't be doing any of this until we figure it out," Quick said.

Dr. Nord agrees with the CDC, "anything you put in your lungs that's not natural got to be bad for you."

To get off of cigarettes, some people turn to vaping. But Dr. Nord said there are safer options instead.

"We have much safer nicotine-containing drugs that are FDA approved which have been used for years and they do help with breaking the addiction of cigarettes," Dr. Nord said.

If you or anyone you know is looking for help to quit, reach out to the South Dakota quitline at 1-866-737-8487.