BOSTON — Two New England states are following the lead of other states by putting a hold on the sale of flavored vapor products, with Massachusetts taking it a step further.
On Sept. 24, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Barker called for a temporary four-month statewide ban the sale of all electronic cigarettes and vapor products — both flavored and non-flavored. The directive also includes cannabis vaping products and devices.
The ban remains active through Jan. 25, 2020.
Barker's decision comes as vaping-related illnesses are reported across the United States. As of Sept. 24, 61 cases had been reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
"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. "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."
During the temporary ban, Baker's administration will work with medical experts, state and federal officials to better understand vaping illnesses and work on additional steps to address this public health crisis. This could include legislation and regulations.
The administration will also work on providing more resources for a public awareness campaign and smoking cessation programs.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order on Sept. 25 directing the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) to establish emergency regulations prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
The executive order also puts in place a number of other measures designed to the curb the initiation of e-cigarette use by young people.
"As governor and as a mom, I'm concerned about the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, particularly on our young people," Raimondo said. "Companies are specifically targeting teens with colorful packaging and flavors. But recent reported injuries and deaths make clear that we do not have a full understanding of the associated risks. It's critical that we act now to protect our kids."
As part of the executive order, the RIDOH will convene a Vaping Advisory Group comprised of medical, public health and product safety experts to monitor state and national vape trends, illnesses, and product developments, and provide regular recommendations on further steps that should be taken to ensure public health and safety related to electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products.
In addition, the Rhode Island State Police ill investigate the sale and distribution of ENDS products containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) outside of the state's medical cannabis program, and the sale of ENDS products to underage youth.
The Executive Order takes effect immediately. To read the full executive order, click here.