Massachusetts Bans Sale of All Vaping Products for 4 Months as Federal Agencies Probe Mystery Illness

September 24, 2019 Updated: September 24, 2019

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced on Sept. 24 a temporary four-month ban on all vaping products sold in response to a public health emergency that has so far been linked to nine deaths across the country.

The ban will affect the sale of flavored and non-flavored vaping products in both retail stores and online, as well as all vaping products and devices, including tobacco and marijuana, according to a press release. The ban takes effect immediately and will end on Jan. 25, 2020.

“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,” said Baker.

“The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents.”

This comes after a death in Kansas brings the total number of deaths linked vaping to nine amid an outbreak of mysterious lung diseases linked to e-cigarettes or vaping products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently investigating the situation. To date, the CDC has confirmed 530 cases of lung injury across 38 states.

“We are in desperate need of facts,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told reporters in a phone call last week.

According to the CDC, nearly three-quarters of the cases are male and two-thirds are 18 to 34 years old.

“We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases,” the agency said on its website.

New York and Michigan have issued similar but less restrictive bans on vaping products, banning the sale of flavored vaping products. Lawmakers in the states are concerned about the appeal of flavored vaping products to children.

Similarly, Walmart announced on Sept. 20 that it will discontinue sales of electronic cigarettes at its stores and Sam’s Clubs across the United States.

“Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. locations,” the retailer said in a statement sent to media outlets. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

President Donald Trump said earlier in the month that his administration would propose a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products to combat a recent surge in underage vaping.

“Currently, about 8 million adults use e-cigarettes, but 5 million children are using e-cigarettes,” he told reporters at the Oval Office. “This is exceptionally harmful to our children. An entire generation of children risk becoming addicted to nicotine because of the attractiveness, appeal-ability, and availability of these vaping products.”

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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