Apparently the first action of its kind in the nation, Massachusetts will have a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state.
The governor of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency Tuesday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s order was quickly approved by the state Public Health Council and applies to all vaping products and devices. The ban, though temporary, is broader than moves in at least two states, Michigan and New York, to ban only flavored versions.
“The use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products is exploding, and we are seeing reports of serious lung illnesses, particularly in our young people,” Baker said at a news conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
His announcement came amid growing concern about the health effects of vaping products, including deaths.
The administration said that as of Tuesday, 61 cases of potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping in Massachusetts had been reported to the state.
Three confirmed cases and two probable Massachusetts cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State health officials this month health began requiring the collection of data on potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping in Massachusetts.
During the temporary ban, Baker said, the administration will work with medical experts and state and federal officials to better understand vaping illnesses and work on additional steps to address the public health crisis.
That, he said, could include legislation and regulations. The administration will also work on providing more resources for a public awareness campaign and smoking cessation programs, he said.
Convenience store owners who rely on the foot traffic brought in by the sale of vaping products are going to be concerned by the decision, according to Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
“There are clearly some issues there. The question is, what’s the problem? Is it the product being sold on the shelves by companies like Juul, or is it the off-brand stuff coming from other countries and sold on the internet?” Hurst said. “I hope we can all work together and find out what is the problem and find a solution soon.”
The CDC is investigating the outbreak but has not yet identified a common e-cigarette or ingredient. Nine deaths have been reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.