Man sickened by vaping hopes to warn others against the practice

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A New Jersey man who was hospitalized with a vaping-related illness says that he hopes to convince others to quit using electronic cigarettes.

The New Jersey Department of Health says that there were 14 cases of lung illness related to electronic cigarette use. Freehold resident Michael Maestri says that he was one of those cases.

"Needless to say, it was the scariest thing I've ever gone through,” he says. “I lost 15 pounds in like two weeks.”

Maestri says that in August he was hospitalized for four days with vaping-related pneumonia.

RELATED: Vaping task force releases findings; Murphy calls for ban on e-cig flavors 
RELATED: New Jersey health officials report first death linked to vaping 

"My pulmonologist goes ‘Do you smoke?’ I said ‘No, I haven't smoked in almost 3 and a half years.’ And he said ‘More importantly, do you vape?’… and I said, ‘Isn't that better? Isn’t that not as bad?’ And he said, ‘Nope,’” Maestri says.

The 26-year-old says that he started vaping to quit cigarettes, but he knew nothing of the potential risks vaping may cause.

“Cigarettes are bad but they don’t allow you to do it in certain places because it's bad for people. You can vape pretty much anywhere you can breathe,” he says.

Maestri says he is now making sure others know about the potential dangers of using electronic cigarettes. He shares articles and stories of those who had similar or worse reactions to vaping.

RELATED: Rep. Gottheimer announces plan to curb underage vaping 
RELATED: Glen Rock HS to install scent detectors to discourage teens from vaping 

"Take it from me, someone who didn't know what was going on and found out that the thing I thought was fun and tasted good and was convenient and all that stuff, is now the reason that I could have died,” he says.

Maestri says as soon as he was diagnosed he threw out all his vape products.

One person has died in New Jersey from a vaping-related illness, according to the state health department.

Gov. Phil Murphy commissioned a task force to investigate vaping in New Jersey. The task force suggested a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, among other suggestions.

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