Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday the Evergreen State would be joining a growing list of states taking action to curb vaping products in the wake of hundreds of lung injuries reported this summer.
Pending a state Department of Health approval on Oct. 9, Washington will implement an emergency regulation to ban all flavored vapor products, Inslee said during an afternoon press conference. He also urged state lawmakers to pass a permanent ban on vape flavors during the annual legislative session beginning in January.
“Vapor products are often mixed with other things,” Inslee said. “Anything can be included in them. It is the Wild West and that is one reason we’re having this health crisis.”
“It does not need to be this way,” he added.
Vape Lung Injuries Spark Moves
As of Friday, Sept. 27, the federal Centers for Disease Control had identified 805 lung injury cases from 46 states and one U.S. territory. The agency confirmed 12 vape-related deaths in 10 states.
Federal authorities have said investigations into lung injuries associated with vaping suggest products containing THC have played a role in the outbreak. In a survey of 514 people affected by the epidemic, 77 percent reported using a vaping product containing THC within 30 days of being hospitalized. Thirty-six percent reported using THC vaping products exclusively during that span. Most of the products connected to lung injuries have been obtained outside of state-licensed cannabis stores.
Almost all of the states to report deaths do not have adult-use marijuana legalization in effect. The deaths occurred in Illinois, Oregon (2), Indiana, California (2), Minnesota, Kansas (2), Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi.
What’s Up in Your State
Officials in all 50 states have released public warnings this month urging residents to exercise extreme caution when using vaporized products, or, in most cases, to avoid their use altogether. But with the addition of Washington, only five states have now implemented bans or partial bans. If your state is not listed below, no recent action has been taken.
Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday, Sept. 24, initiated a full ban of all vaping products and devices in the state for four months. The first of its kind in the nation, Massachusetts’ ban applies to both online and retail sale of all kinds of nicotine and cannabis through Jan. 25, 2020.
“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,” Baker said.
Baker’s office, apparently taking a better-safe-than-sorry approach, said the sale of both cannabis and nicotine vape products will be prohibited.
The first state to approve regulations for a statewide ban on e-cigarettes and vaping products, Michigan on Sept. 4 cut sweet flavors, mint, and menthol flavors from its list of approved vaping products. The ban does not cover tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, though.
A spokeswoman from the office of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the first-term Democrat enacted the ban to “prevent predatory corporations from getting our kids hooked on nicotine.” Whitmer also said she would ban the advertising of vaping products via misleading terminology like healthy, safe, and clean.
The emergency ban began on Sept. 18 and expires in March 2020. Michigan lawmakers are also working on a permanent measure to be passed in next year’s state legislature.
New York on Sept. 17 became the first state to actually implement a statewide ban on most flavored nicotine vaping products, beating Michigan by just one day. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency regulation, good for three months, did not outlaw the sale of menthol-flavored products. Authorities will begin enforcing the new regulations on Oct. 4.
On Wednesday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order banning the sale of flavored vapes in the Plantation State. The measure will go into effect on Oct. 2 and last four months. But like Washington, Rhode Island’s ban won’t apply to unflavored tobacco products.
The most recent vape sanction, when it’s approved on Oct. 9, appears to mirror that of Rhode Island. Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday he’s starting with flavored vapes, but hopes to eventually extend beyond that with the help of next year’s state legislature. If approved by the state’s health authorities, the ban will remain “as long as I’m governor,” Inslee said.
Other states have proposed an array of sanctions, but have yet to move forward. Some are merely ramping up the anti-vaping propaganda or allowing cities to enact bans on a local level
State officials have not restricted vaping products, but San Francisco in June prohibited all e-cigarettes from being sold within the city limits.
Golden State officials instead are fighting back with propaganda. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 16 issued an executive order allocating some $23 million for an advertising campaign against the industry, underage sales and counterfeit products. The Los Angeles Times reports the LA County Board of Supervisors is moving toward its own ban on flavored vape products.
Democrat Rep. Krista Griffith told local affiliate WBOC that state lawmakers are in the process of drafting legislation to ban flavored vape products and restrict advertising. A spokesman for the Gov. John Carney suggested to the TV station the governor may also soon be on board.
Republican State Rep. Grant Wehrli filed a bill on Sep. 13 to create the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act. If passed during next year’s legislative session, House Bill 3887 would ban the sale of both flavored e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products.
Democrats Sens. Shirley Turner and Joe Vitale each introduced bills that would prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, according to an NBC affiliate. The bills will be introduced in next year’s legislative session.