Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has ordered a temporary ban on the sale of vaping products, declaring a statewide health emergency amid a growing number of deaths across the country from vaping-related lung injuries.
“We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses,” he said during a Tuesday press conference. “We also need to better understand the inherent dangers of vaping both nicotine and marijuana.”
The sweeping ban will stretch four months and apply to all vaping devices and flavored and nonflavored products, as well as those including marijuana and THC ― the psychoactive chemical found in the drug. Sales will not be allowed online, in retail establishments or through any other means.
“E-cigarette usage is exploding, and it’s clear there’s a very real, deep danger to the population,” Baker said. “This temporary ban will allow state government and medical providers the time they need to understand the dangers and respond accordingly.”
Baker’s action comes less than two weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) slapped a three-month ban on the sale of e-cigarettes in his state through an emergency executive action, shaming businesses for exacerbating the crisis by marketing to youths.
On Monday, the ninth vaping-linked death was reported in Kansas ― the second one in the state. Other fatalities have occurred in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Oregon.
As of Sept. 17, 530 cases of vaping-related lung illness were reported in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two-thirds of the cases involved smokers ages 18 to 34, raising concerns over the vulnerability of young people to becoming hooked on vaping, which delivers far more nicotine than traditional cigarettes.
As the CDC states in its notice, all patients have a history of vaping, and “no consistent evidence of an infectious cause has been discovered.”
“Therefore, the suspected cause is a chemical exposure,” the agency concludes.
No single product has been identified as the culprit in all cases, but a national investigation involving federal, state and local authorities is continuing.