Governor Baker Declares Temporary Ban on Vaping Products

Intro from Will B.

Quinn Diaz on my team has prepared the helpful information below which provides the context for the Governor’s recent suspension of vaping products in Massachusetts. Please see my own statement boxed further below.

I’ve heard from some people who use vaping products and are very upset about the ban. There does appear to be a real health problem, but I also see the risk of that people will shift into the black market and use more dangerous products. I’m continue to be interested in hearing comments, especially from users of vaping products with a personal perspective. Please do comment below.

You can make your comment anonymous by using a fictional name and fictional email address. Your email address is never published. It is only visible to me and my team. We reserve the right not to publish comments that use an unverifiable email address.

On September 24, Governor Baker declared a public health emergency and temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products in response to a multi-state outbreak of unexplained lung illnesses associated with vaping. In effect until January 25, the ban seeks to provide medical experts time to properly investigate the dangers associated with the use of electronic nicotine and marijuana products, which will assist the state in developing a response that could include new legislation or Department of Public Health (DPH) regulations.

At a Public Health Council meeting on September 11, Commissioner Monical Bharel issued a mandate requiring clinicians statewide to report possible instances of vaping-related illness to DPH. The agency has since received 61 referrals and has forwarded five cases that have met federal criteria to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for further examination. As of September 26, the CDC has collected the following information on lung injury associated with e-cigarette product use nationwide:

Source: Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Although conventional cigarette smoking has declined notably over the past several decades, 41% of high school students in Massachusetts reported having tried e-cigarettes in 2017, with 1 in 5 reporting regular use, according to DPH statistics. Current use of e-cigarettes among high school students is 6 times higher than the rate of use among adults, and vaping devices have become the most common tobacco product used by youth.

Given the industry’s nascence, gaps in scientific evidence and understanding still abound, including on the overall and long-term health impacts of vaping products and on their utility as combustible tobacco cessation devices.

Governor Baker’s emergency declaration authorizes local police departments, boards of public health, and the Cannabis Control Commission, which regulates the legal marijuana industry, to conduct compliance checks to ensure retailers and licensees remove all vaping products from their shelves. The state will also establish a standing pharmacy order for nicotine replacement products that individuals will be able to use their health insurance to purchase without a prescription.

Critics of the Governor’s ban have cited inconclusive data linking vaping-related lung illness to the legal market, concerns the ban may push individuals who use vapes into a dangerous, illicit market, evidence vaping has helped some people quit smoking, and the sudden impact on vaping businesses.

Following the Governor’s declaration, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health voted unanimously Wednesday to advance a redrafted version of a bill – S.2357, An Act regulating flavored tobacco products – first filed by Senator John Keenan and Representative Danielle Gregoire that would prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. House Speaker Robert DeLeo also suggested the House would develop comprehensive legislation aimed at long-term solutions to issues surrounding vaping.

Additional Resources:

Summary of Comments by Quinn Diaz

A review of comments left as of September 27 at 2:45 PM indicate that commenters are nearly evenly split in their reactions to the Governor’s temporary ban on vaping products.

Supporters of the ban commonly view the executive action as a thoughtful response to an under-researched, preventable public health issue that predominantly affects youth and has initiated a new generation of smokers. Supporters expressed strong critiques of the vape industry, which they view as leveraging a lack of federal regulation and employing unethical marketing practices to target youth in order to drive profits, while pushing industry-funded studies to suggest vape products are safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

Critics of the ban view the Governor’s declaration as a reactive, shortsighted and ill-informed moral attack on individual liberties that will only work to harm medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers, small businesses, and individuals who have experienced success with vaping products as smoking cessation devices. Critics struggle to understand the utility of a temporary ban given the ongoing availability of combustible cigarettes, and cite concerns related to pushing individuals into an expanding black market with even more dangerous products. Critics also find fault with the Governor’s unilateral decision-making approach.

Among supporters, there was a notable faction who believe the ban should carve out exemptions for medical marijuana vape products.

Statement by Will Brownsberger

October 13, 2019

Thanks so much to all who have taken the time to comment online here. I have read every comment posted through midday on Sunday, October 13. All of the input is helpful. I especially appreciate those who shared personal experiences with vaping or with relatives who vape.

I do not doubt the Governor’s intentions, his deliberative process or even his wisdom, in instituting the ban on all vaping products. I think he heard from medical professionals who were deeply alarmed by the harms their patients had experienced from vaping. He considered advice from his public health team and he made a call in the best interests of the Commonwealth as he understood those interests.

It is a hard call, but I would not have instituted the ban myself. Instead, I would have focused on alerting people to the dangers of vaping generally and especially to vaping of substances from unreliable sources.

Backing up, let’s remember what kind of decision the Governor was called upon to make. Chapter 17, Section 2A empowers the Governor to declare “that an emergency exists which is detrimental to the public health”. Upon such a declaration, the Commissioner of Public Health is empowered “take such action and incur such liabilities as [s]he may deem necessary to assure the maintenance of public health and the prevention of disease”. These essential powers go back to early days of the republic. Even before germ theory developed, people understood that certain dangerous diseases were contagious and emergency responses were sometimes necessary to contain them.

I do not think we can second-guess the question of whether or not the emergent pattern of vaping deaths legally constitutes an emergency. Certainly, people are dying and we cannot quibble about how many deaths are necessary to constitute an emergency.

Given that the decision made based on a finding of a public health emergency, arguments about whether or not people should vape or have the right to vape are secondary. It is not of primary relevance to the emergency decision whether vaping helps people gets people off of cigarettes or whether it is a bad habit in itself. It is not of primary relevance whether too many young people are starting to vape or whether the industry is targeting young people. Civil liberties and fairness to business owners are not of primary relevance. All of those considerations are deeply important, but they relate to the permanent legislative policy response to vaping, not to the Governor’s emergency response to the emergent lung disease.

The question at the fulcrum at the emergency decision is whether or not the ban will save lives or place more lives at risk. In my view, the ban will likely place more lives at risk.

First, we know that roughly ten million children and adults vape nicotine regularly. According to a recent Massachusetts report, 20% of high school students currently use electronic nicotine products. That is a very troubling number, but it is very consistent with national data. It indicates that the population of high school nicotine vapers in Massachusetts alone is on the order of 60,000. Another roughly 15,000 middle school students have some experience with vaping nicotine. These numbers are based on survey data and so are likely biased downwards as some students may not admit their use. Nationwide, the total of current youth nicotine vapers appears to be on the order 4 million or more. Prevalence is lower among adults — only 2.8% nationally — but still that adds up to an estimated 6.9 million adult e-cigarette users.

Among youth in Massachusetts, the rate of admitted past-month use of marijuana is about the same as the rate of admitted past-month use of nicotine products — compare page 33 and page 35 of the Health and Risk Behaviors Survey of Massachusetts Youth). So, it appears likely many are vaping marijuana. It is safe to say that there are millions of THC vapers nationwide.

Second, it is clear that the rate of occurrence of the disease condition is very low among vapers. Nationwide, as of October 8, 1,299 lung injury cases had been reported to the CDC. It is possible that the detected number of cases is a tiny fraction of the actual cases. Milder negative effects of vaping may go unreported, but it seems implausible that 99% of the serious cases would go unreported, but let’s make that assumption for the sake of argument: Let’s assume that for every CDC reported case, there are 100 unreported cases. Even on that assumption, approximately 1% of vapers (order-of-magnitude 100,000 out of 10 million) would have been stricken with serious disease.

Third, it appears very likely that many if not all of the serious cases derive from ingredients in particular illicit products. Among 573 patients for whom the CDC had some data on substance use history, only 13% reported nicotine-only vaping. Most of the rest were using THC products which are only available on the illicit market in most states. “Nearly all THC-containing products reported were packaged, prefilled cartridges that were primarily acquired from informal sources such as friends, family members, illicit dealers, or off the street.” As to those claiming to use only nicotine products, we do not know how many preferred to conceal their THC use, but it is always safe to assume that illegal behavior is under-reported. Additionally, any true nicotine-only users may have been purchasing their product from illicit suppliers of nicotine products. This is likely especially among youth users as sales to minors are illegal under federal law.

Certainly, causes other than bad illicit products remain possible. A certain subset of users could be vulnerable due to a genetic pre-disposition or a co-occuring habit or a particular unusual style of consumption or a malfunction of their vaping equipment. Or the disease could have gone unrecognized and is now emerging as more users continue long-term use. But right now, we are without data that are specifically consistent with those theories, while we do have a very plausible illicit market ingredient theory.

Fourth, we know that nicotine is highly addictive, so that current nicotine vapers are very likely to continue using nicotine. Some will switch to other lawful nicotine delivery systems, but many will turn to nicotine vape suppliers who are willing to violate the Massachusetts sale ban — the kind of supplier likely to sell less safe products. Similarly, many current THC vapers will turn away from lawful Massachusetts suppliers selling regulated and tested products to the unlawful THC products that the CDC has identified as the most prevalent antecedent of the disease.

If, as the facts above suggest, thousands of Massachusetts vaping users may turn to riskier sources of product and continue vaping through the ban, it seems likely that the ban may result in increased disease and death. A widespread advisory about the risks of vaping and the specific exposures from certain products might have been a safer approach to protecting the public than an absolute ban. The one clearly good effect of the Governor’s decision is that it does send a huge advisory message.

There is no legislative appetite to overturn the Governor’s decision. Many legislators, like many commenters on the issue here, are worried about vaping generally as a public health issue and therefore welcome the Governor’s ban. So, we will have to live through the ban. At some point, hindsight will further illuminate the decision.

159 replies on “Governor Baker Declares Temporary Ban on Vaping Products”

  1. Hi Will,

    I just don’t see the data that is being used to make this decision. True quantitative data that shows a cause and effect. Right now, it’s damaging businesses, and cigarettes are still legal? My advice, look at real public health data and professionals. I think a ban s premature

    1. Ignorance, emotion, lack of evidence, posturing, and an irresistible desire to tell other people how to live when their behavior doesn’t affect you—these are the only things the prohibition side has to offer. People who want to ignore the will of the voters will use any excuse to get their way.

      Here are some facts, in no order:
      —Even the CDC is not pushing a ban, only urging that people “consider” avoiding vaping
      —None of these cases were associated with licensed MA dispensaries. The most likely culprit is a cheap filler ingredient used primarily in illegal cartridges
      —The whole lesson of this story is that bans do not stop people vaping. If anyone thinks illegal cartridges aren’t doing a very brisk business right now under Baker’s ban, they’re an idiot
      —The ban is having a catastrophic effect on small businesses. It’s obvious this effect is intentional. Even if the ban were to be lifted, these businesses will be still gone. That’s what the Prohibitionist want.

      Do we still have a functioning legislature? Or are we a dictatorship where laws can be passed based on one man’s ill-informed opinions, with an army of monied lobbyists waiting in the wings?

      Yes, we need better vaping regulation particularly regarding the way nicotine is marketed to kids. But will the legislative please get off their collective asses and ***** legislate??

      1. Steven, I would classify these more on the opinion side of the coin than on the fact side. If you’re going to state you’re going to give facts, please leave opinion out of it.

        Vaping was rushed to the market before an independent comprehensive study could be done on the pros and cons. It was marketed by these businesses as being a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes citing their own internal studies. Given big cigarette companies are large stake holders in the vaping business and they have a shady past on using “science” to discredit how bad their product is, it seems prudent to put a pause on sales to finalize a more objective study on the possible negative affects of vaping. Will it hurt small businesses in the short term that depend on the sales of vaping products? Yes. Could it affect medical marijuana patients as well? Possibly. The positives far outweigh the negatives if you also include in the equation the impact that vaping has had in our youth. That data is very clear. Under 18 youth are vaping at a much higher rate than they use cigarettes. Some of that will continue through the black market but the rates will likely decrease substantially with the legal sales being paused and access to product is reduced.

        1. You are confused about the distinction between fact and opinion. In any case, your approach is already in force in most of the states reporting actual deaths among vapers. Congratulations on bringing its benefits here.

      2. Great insight(s) about prohibition. Let’s remove them everywhere-dispensaries included- and let the unregulated black market proliferate. As a medical marijuana patient I have now lost that as an option. Well done Charlie

  2. I am not a person who vapes but I support the governor’s action…there was a rush to corporatetize vaping and now small individual business people are being hurt economically and emotionally. If you have ever been downsized out of job, the feeling is real. I suspect that Big Tobacco has been preparing for this eventuality and will be the entity to test and process a safe vaping system and there goes all the small business opportunities. But Massachusetts cannot support a business that is so visibly harmful…at least not without the necessary lobbying groups put together…such as Tobacco, Alcohol, Cigarettes and Gambling do.

  3. Given the health concerns and that minors appear to be at greatest risk, a temporary ban seems reasonable. The govt should move quickly though to investigate. Ads, packaging and flavors that target youth should be banned regardless as predatory, given the potential for addiction. Even if no health risk exists, it’s unethical to target young people with a product that they will be unable to easily give up, regardless of their ability to pay for it.

  4. Vaping should have been banned sooner. How can inhalation of unknown substances be healthy? It need to be more regulated. If it is regulated then the ban can be liftedFor those using it as a step to smoking cessations, there should be state assistance in the form of free patches and other means (if it does not already exist). Lowering the number of smokers now will help to lower everyone’s premiums for healthcare.

  5. When 9 Mass citizens die of EEE all resources are mobilized. More of our citizens will have chronic lung disease and death from vaping. Thi is a preventable health risk with high medical costs. Lives are more valuable than the profits of vape sellers. I approve this moratorium to explore why some vapers are affected and not others. Burt Jaffe M. D.

    1. Well said and reasoned, Burt. I agree completely, and reach for common sense: pulling particles of any sort into our lung’s alveoli is stupid, and any public measure that can curb stupid behavior on the part of some citizens – if not too onerous on the rest of us – is worthy of our support.

      1. You’re not my damn doctor. Whether my behavior meets your standards of health is absolutely none of your damn business.

        Go celebrate your short lived victory with a cocktail.

        1. Steven, You can do whatever you want. Just make sure that you have enough health insurance in case you get sick.

  6. I am an epidemiologist and a medical marijuana patient. From the point-of-view of an epidemiologist, the problem is that the medical marijuana infrastructure in Mass is well run, and the marijuana vaping that is done through that infrastructure has been done safely for years. I am caught up in this ban. For a long time, we have known nicotine is very bad for you and it should be illegal, but now it has not been regulated properly, and those producing nicotine products without any supervision are now also producing THC products without any supervision, and apparently, these are killing people. There is no research, but it looks like that’s what’s killing people – not the medical marijuana products from Mass. Hence, the unregulated and unresearched products are getting mixed in legislatively with my researched and safe THC-related products.

    The research of the THC products was privately supported by patients and the THC industry – not the government. By contrast, the government paid for a lot of tobacco research that found it was bad for you – and then didn’t fund any vaping research, so no one did. I learned Maharry College received a grant from Juul to study vaping from an NPR episode recently. I can’t see that college having the capacity; I studied at the Univ. of MN where epidemiologists testified against Big Tobacco, which is part of why I know all this.

    Without an evidence-base, we cannot make policy. I’m disappointed I will suffer because of this, and I feel like a ban won’t work without pairing the ban with money for research so we know what to do. Right now, unless we do something about tobacco and vaping companies, I can’t see us doing anything about whatever is killing these people.

    1. I have never tried vaping, but as a medical marijuana user, I know that there is a major difference between the recreational vaping that is hurting so many people and the medical vaping that is very controlled and has helped many people. With the advent of recreational marijuana, I am watching medical marijuana users being thrown under the bus as the big profits come in from recreational use. When the new law went into effect, there was supposed to be a very strong line between medical and recreational use. That line seems to have blurred. Most medical users are advised and supervised by clinics and our use of marijuana is closely aligned with other medical care. While I support a ban on general vaping, I think that medical users are in a different category and should not be deprived of medically prescribed treatment. Medical users must be re-certified annually and pay a fee to the state for a license. They are, or should be, in a totally different category than recreational users.

      1. No? You are vaping the exact same products available for adult use. None of your doctors are supervising their manufacture. If it’s too dangerous for adult use on healthy adults, obviously it’s much too dangerous for sick people.

        1. Point of information: I’m the epidemiologist who posted above. I just wanted to make clear that “doctors” without any extra training specifically in another topic cannot really weigh in on “supervising the manufacture” of any medications. That’s done by public health people, chemists, laboratorians, and others who understand manufacturing drugs, which doctors do not unless they gain other training outside of medicine.

          There are other FDA-approved drugs that are found to be dangerous and are recalled all the time. This is not the fault of personal physicians. It’s not logical to expect “doctors” to supervise manufacturing – only to weigh in on studies of their patients.

      2. Bull Loney. Thanks to the CDC dropping the ball and the FDA what is really happening is people are going to go back to cigarettes because states are losing money from them not smoking. Investigate that follow the money. The state’s lose money when they lose smokers because of the lawsuit against big tobacco they only pay for people who use tobacco so now the state’s lose the money when people go to vaping

  7. Agree that vaping poses potentially serious health risks. That being said, unlike cigarettes which emit second hand smoke, vape use harms only the individual using. If the adult is over 18 and assumes the risk, I don’t like the precedent of the Governor stepping in to ban it being set/reinforced.

    1. Second hand smoke is a problem with vaping as well as regular cigarettes!
      was standing at a buss stop and found I had gotten an itch like feeling in my lung.
      I began coughing, repeatedly, I looked around to see if there might be something in the air.
      I didn’t notice at first but then saw that a guy close to me was vaping. I moved away and my urge to cough went away as well. I know from that experience and common sense that vaping is not just bad for the person vaping. Vaping should never have been allowed with out at least basic testing which clearly had not been done.

  8. Too many young people are getting ill and some even dying. I think Governor Baker did the right thing in banning vaping until more research is done.

  9. Protecting the health of our children out ways the distribution and sales of a product that is addictive and whose health dangers are still being determined

  10. I do not smoke or vape but think the state is wrong to ban vaping. It enables people to quit smoking, is a delivery system for pain relief, and is an appealing alternative to smoking. I do not believe, “vaping devices have become the most common tobacco product used by youth.” It’s not smoking and the data cited do not prove anything. It’s like banning cars after the first year because they kill a few people.

    1. Grant, it’s an easy thing to look up. The data speaks for itself. First paragraph on the FDA website regarding use of tobacco products is below:

      “According to 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) data, current e-cigarette use—or “vaping”—among middle and high school students increased alarmingly between 2017 and 2018, with over 3.6 million kids currently using e-cigarettes in 2018. Each year, the NYTS—a nationally representative survey funded by FDA and CDC—sheds light on the latest rates of tobacco use among both middle and high school students. In recent years, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product by U.S. teens; however, rates of use generally declined between 2015 and 2017. Unfortunately, the 2018 NYTS data show a sharp and startling reversal of overall declines in youth tobacco use from previous years.”

  11. Can you explain why vaping was so under-regulated in the first place? Like a couple of your other commentators I was astonished that there was so little consideration of potential health risks before e-cigarettes were allowed to be sold widely.

    One question is whether these problems are rare and due to either misuse or genetic variation, or whether they’re a very frightening tip of the iceberg. It’s especially frightening that they’re coming up so fast after vaping became common. Unless there’s a good reason to think that the susceptibility to vaping is rare, I support the ban despite the problems.

    1. These particular problems aren’t occurring soon after vaping became prevalent. They’re arising years later and very suddenly.

  12. I’m simply not persuaded that anyone seeking to quit cigarettes or to take medical marijuana must do it by vaping. There are other ways to quit smoking, and ways that do not so readily (and deliberately) get under-age users addicted. There was life before vaping. Vaping was allowed on the market with no long-term medical studies of whether it is safe. If a four-month ban gets people to seek safer ways to quit smoking or treat a medical condition, it will have saved at least a few lives.

    1. Well reasoned Anonymous one.
      Vaping is not an essential path for any medical use period.
      It is not an essential to any enjoyment of life.
      Vaping is not only harmful to the user but to those around them and there families.

  13. Bravo Governor Baker! Ban it. Medical professionals can weigh in on whether it should be available by doctor’s prescription.

  14. I stopped smoking 26 years ago. Every time I smell a freshly lit a tobacco I yearn for it. The idea of stopping the sale of vaping products is good and may delay someone else from becoming addicted. The ancillary actions accompanying vaping, and tobacco use, the socialization, the oral gratification and, of course, the impact of nicotine. The action should be joined with a way to allow the small business people to maintain until the permanent solution is developed and implement.

  15. As a medical user who successfully uses cannabis in a vape cartridge to avoid having to resort to opiates, I am very displeased with the governor’s ban. I have asthma and smoking flower aggravates my symptoms where vaporizing does not. At least allow those of us who are medical uses have access to the medicine that works for us. Most medical users are more savvy than casual users about our bodies and are under the care of a doctor, so we are more closely monitored than the general population and the medical vaping products are already closely monitored for quality and content, so they should be allowed during this examination period.
    Thank you.
    To close, a few points,
    Cars kill how many people per year? Legal
    Guns kill how many people per year? Legal
    ICE kills how many people per year? Legal
    Air Pollution kills how many people per year? Seems to be legal.
    Water Pollution kills how many people per year? Seems to be legal.
    Climate Change kills how many people per year? It’s a hoax.
    Asthma? Lung Cancer? Asbestos? Lead? Mercury?

  16. I am ambivalent on this matter, Will. The idea that vaping would be better for one’s health rather than smoking cigarettes always seemed like a fallacy – too good to be true.
    I don’t like the government imposing laws on what I consume. Vaping for certain individuals – especially our youth – in some cases causes almost immediate irreversible illness – possibly death – for them I am most concerned. My grandson tells me that half the kids at his high school vape. Yikes, this is so scary! In this case, I believe Governor Baker made a wise decision. Let’s conduct more research before we allow these dangerous products to be available to the public.

  17. Absolutely it should be banned. All that vaping has become is trading one bad addiction for another. Cigarettes should have been banned like this along time ago like this as well. I am amazed at how many kids I see walking home from school as I’m coming home from work in the afternoon vaping. It’s easily triple if not more, than the kids I used to see in high school smoking cigarettes.
    People can feel bad all they want about the vape shops laying people off or not being able to keep their doors open anymore. That was their choice to open a business that caters to vapers knowing it could be just as dangerous if not more than smoking cigarettes.

  18. I don’t understand the logic. It certainly looks — perhaps I am missing something really basic — as though all anyone who wants to buy a device need do is ask Google. Or a kid at the local high school. Plus I don’t understand how a ban contributes to the science one way or the other.

    Fred Hapgood

  19. My response is a bit different. My family is 100 per cent against vaping.
    But, if possible and if I am allowed an opinion, I would simply define these as cigarettes, legally. Please extend the definition of lvaping to be included by the Massachusetts definition and restrictions on cigarettes or cigarette smoking.

    Keeps young people away from even worse, but provide with the Government a kind regulatory mechanism.

  20. Why all this so suddenly?

    Vaping has been around for many years.

    Is this being pushed by the tobacco industry?

  21. It’s hypocritical to prohibit vaping and still allow the selling of cigarettes

    I would be for the removal of all vaping products and removal of all cigarettes to be sold in the Commonwealth

    People die from smoking cigarettes in very large numbers and this has been true for decades and we know this

    One of the biggest problems with cigarettes is that kids smoke cigarettes so why are cigarettes allowed to be sold when it’s known to be an addictive toxic and dangerous product ?

  22. Anyone applauding this politically expedient ban hasn’t dealt with patients for whom it’s critical (you can still vape flowers long story). Just more over reaction to “news” what news? The CDC hasn’t weighed in as they’re trying to figure this out.
    Much like the corruption with Fentanyl this is a product of greed: look up the recent bust of an enormous vape shop, cheap supplies from China including knock-off packaging. To actually include the amount of THC equivalent to what we can currently buy is Expensive. (See history of ‘jake leg’ during prohibition)
    Today we saw the no hands bill fail, yet a bunch of privledged freaked out moms who have no medical knowledge want to applaud driving drugs underground and back on the streets.
    There’s a time updated map via New England Journal of medicine if you wish to delve deeper.
    Self reporting is notoriously unreliable. The CDC acknowledges this.
    The chemical reaction inside the vape canister is not without negatives, but compared with cigarettes it’s nothing. Something else is happening in the combustion process. I do Not believe this has been an ongoing problem. I know many people who are using medical cannabis, including in my family.
    If your kids are hiding their vaping and God knows their quick addiction to nicotine deal with it. Don’t push your 5 PM news on my friend fighting cancer.

    1. Your comment about privileged moms is spot on. I’d also add geezers as another guilty category, which to be fair I kind of count myself as one. It’s indeed a position of privilege and entitlement to spew ill-considered opinions about legislation that can have enormous impact on people’s lives, especially the poor and minorities, throw the cops back into the marijuana fights, and feel not the slightest obligation to inform yourself beyond a clickbait article or two because, hey, it only affects those people. Sickening.

  23. I vape THC to manage my fibromyalgia pain, so I am disappointed in this ban given that it is not the legal stuff bought at a dispensary that is causing these problems, but black market goods that are tainted. If kids want to vape they will find a way. Instead of banning vapes, start cracking down in the businesses selling them to underage people.

    1. How do you know that the illegal stuff is the problem? An issue here is that even the legal vaping liquids have a stew of unknown ingredients.

    2. Vaping is not needed to address your fibromyalgia.
      Vaping is not a necessity for anything. It’s just a toy you and others like to use and we all know it except people like you who think it’s cool or whatever. I was a cigarette smoker once until I realized I had been suckered into thinking it was what I wanted. One day I got honest with myself and quit.
      I have tried to stop fooling myself ever since. It’s not easy but you can do it.

      1. David, what an uncalled for and childish remark. As I stated, I smoke THC, not nicotine. Never smoked nicotine in my life, and never will. I don’t smoke because it’s cool, I smoke because I have a chronic pain condition and it keeps me off opiates and able to function throughout the day. Please learn about what you’re talking about before you talk about it.

  24. I don’t agree with the ban now that I’ve read comments on both sides. What’s really needed is immediate all hands on deck problem solving to research, investigate and educate.
    Require small businesses to post risks as they are understood…
    Do the hard work of understanding the problem. Alcohol and tobacco etc etc are not banned. Why not ban all guns?

  25. While I understand the sentiment behind the ban, we haven’t experienced these same issues in Massachusetts where vape products have been used in medical marijuana dispensaries for years. In fact, vaping is the preferred method of delivery for medical marijuana patients. Not only will this ban severely affect patients that chose not to smoke or may be unable to use edibles, but this could have an incredible impact on medical-only dispensaries – and could even put them out of business. Again, the medical marijuana community relies heavily on vape products. I subscribe to newsletters from two medical dispensaries and they have been extremely transparent with their process, their ingredients, and the safety measures that they take. One of them is owned by an MD.
    This ban is shortsighted, a clumsy band-aid, and harmful to patients and business. I do understand the fear, but this reaction by Gov. Baker is over the top and not evidence based.

    1. At the very LEAST, medical marijuana dispensaries shouldn’t be lumped into this ban. They’re held to entirely different standards that your typical Juul store and this needs to be acknowledged.

  26. Banning all vaping products at this stage of the business does indeed sound pretty ham-handed. But I see no choice, given what we know and don’t know about the risks of vaping. We know enough that there are serious dangers. A crash effort is need to figure out the cause, given the popularity of vaping and the ready availability of illicit products. I can’t imagine what the solution will be, since cheap illicit (and dangerous) products will always be available. Maybe vaping has to be banned ultimately. Like backyard stills.

    1. You do realize almost all of these deaths occurred in states where THC vaping is already banned, don’t you?

  27. I feel bad for the local business folks who may go out of business. If you vape responsibly, an adult should be able to make their own decision.

  28. Whenever some type of Prohibition is made into law, it creates a black market and, this time, many small businesses will go under. Humans do what they do and laws don’t stop them. That’s just the way we are cut. So.

  29. I started smoking consistently (and heavily) at 17 – access to cigarettes was never an issue even in middle school, we just bought them at our local corner store. I’m 33 and have been vaping for about seven years. FWIW my health has improved considerably since I made the switch; I get regular physicals and my doctor has noted that my lungs are in good shape. I find this recent trend of sudden illness or death disturbing. To our legislators, I must ask why we don’t already have sound regulations for this market that limits the public health impact without killing the industry/creating conditions for takeover by big tobacco? Vape products have been on the market for over a decade.

    Switching gears now, I think this ban is downright cruel to people who are addicted to nicotine. It irks me to no end when those who are not addicted suggest unsatisfying alternatives like patches, gum, and inhalers. Has no one stopped to consider that just like some opiate users may need to take suboxone or methadone for the rest of their lives, so too may some need a long-term alternative to cigarettes that they can stick with? I belong to a cohort of people (chronic mood and psychotic disorders) that has a smoking rate above 50%, and for many of us, quitting nicotine is way, way down on the list of personal goals. Somehow, someway, we must harmonize the interests of (reluctant) nicotine addicts, people who don’t want to quit, marginal weirdos who can’t quit, concerned parents, vulnerable young people, and an influential cabal of the healthy and wealthy – can this be done? I don’t know, but please lay off my fix.

    1. Very well put, Will! I smoked cigarettes for over 12 years (starting in high school) and I switched over within a week of trying vaping and haven’t smoked a cigarette in almost 2 years now. This ban will not only push some people back to smoking cigarettes, but it will also close many local small businesses. I have become friendly with several employees at vape shops and so many of them truly believe that they are helping people to quit smoking by presenting a harm-reducing alternative. I have also read that the UK sees vaping as harm-reduction and has a much more evolved perspective on this topic.

      At this point in time I do not have enough supplies to make it through 4 months. I have tried to order supplies online to stock up, and was able to order some things but several websites have already refused to ship products to MA. If I am not able to get the supplies I ordered, I am going to consider switching back to cigarettes (under duress and hopefully for a very limited time). I am scared at this prospect because it would be a step backward for me, but Charlie Baker will not be forcing me to address my nicotine dependence on his timeframe, it will be done on my own time frame. Maybe thats being too stubborn, but I am extremely disappointed that the MA government would take this action without any warning and with immediate effect.

      I have been using the same vaping system and liquids for almost 2 years and have never experienced any illnesses that are vaping related. I believe that this ban is supposed to “look” like its going to be effective but the (unintended) consequences are extremely high. I believe that there were alternatives – like banning all nicotine products under 3 milligrams, for example. But those would have taken perhaps a more nuanced and less impulsive person than Baker. I am desperately hoping the ban will be appealed or modified so that I will be able to continue the journey I have already started: to wean myself off nicotine entirely (which is something that vaping allows a person to do, while cigarettes do not). I am proud that vaping helped me stop smoking.
      For anyone who wants more info, here is an article that I have passed along to others:

    2. This addiction you speak of is just a mental construct of selfish people.
      You do not deserves or has the right to subject those around them to the evil that is cigarettes and vaping.
      There are no benefits to cigarettes.
      Anyone who says they need them is a selfish and delusional liar.
      Vaping is the same. You can do without it. We all can do without it. Stop being selfish.
      If you want to abuse yourself just get over it. You know I’m right. Self abuse effects others.
      Self abuse is not a right.

      1. David, I don’t know why, but I like you man.

        You’re deep in this comment section guns blazing, you nut 😉

        Did you mean to say ” … just get it over with?”

      2. If you’re correlating someone vaping near you to irritation in your lungs, I won’t discount it; I believe we need more quality, peer-reviewed research in addition to what’s already been published. It feels like your pointing your finger at people who already struggle to function in their day-to-day lives. I will acquiesce to the superiority of your lifestyle if you come to my house with 5,000 in cash and a new brain.

      3. Wow, I am sorry you’re in such pain. Hurt people hurt people and I am feeling a lot of ignorance and aggression coming from you.

        As someone in recovery and as someone who has the people closest to me struggling actively with addiction, I take addiction very seriously. I am very familiar with the complexities of it in intimate detail. I feel like my comments spoke calmly about my personal experiences and I cannot relate to needing to put someone else down like you put me down by calling me a “selfish and delusional liar”. I feel a lot of anger that seems out of proportion to what I wrote. If I was able to allow you to get some of that anger, I am glad I could help you. Have a nice weekend 🙂

  30. Banning the thing is not a solution, but only a temporary Band-Aid. Sadly, the governors Band-Aid of a solution it’s harming medical marijuana patients across the state.

    It is completely unfair, and on scientific, to group all types of vaping into one category.

    Type 1.
    Those who Vape ejuice knowingly and just nicotine along with propylene glycol… a known lung irritant.

    Type 2.
    Those who Vape pure CBD or Marijuana oil, purchased legally at a state regulated dispensary, are NOT knowingly taking either of those risks.

    Type 3
    Those who Vape supplements, via Amazon or other online portals, have no idea what they are truly ingesting, as that market remains on regulated. Many are drawing a link between vitamin E oil and the current vaping crisis.

    Denying medical marijuana patients their prescription medicine should be a human rights violation. I am truly sorry for the families of victims, and survivors who remain ill, possibly due to vaping ejuice or unregulated vaping products. Yet, punishing patients who are purchasing their medicine at legally regulated stores will not help these people.

  31. What Baker did is stupid for two main reasons:
    1. It disenfranchises medical marijuana users who use vaping products.
    2. There are dozens of ways to get around it and more will be invented by clever entrepreneurs and black marketeers.
    It won’t work and will obstruct those with legitimate needs from using products they feel work for them. The science doesn’t matter. It’s a broad-axe poorly thought-out solution that will have unintended consequences. A more thoughtful approach is needed, which should include public health campaigns.

  32. I neither vape or use e cigarettes but believe the ban places an undue burden on small businesses and will likely cause undue hardship to employees of businesses which will be closed due to this edict causing unemployment and bankruptcy. We need to see more thorough investigation into the cause of vaping illness before a ban is proclaimed. The governors intensions are admirable but seem to the result of panic rather than well informed facts.

  33. I believe vaping should be banned. It is shocking that it was even approved, and the subsequent health problems is no surprise.

  34. This is a tough one for me to answer as I could give reasons for either scenario.
    On the one hand if our government can legalize the sales and use of marijuana, liquor, and tobacco (which all kill people in one way or another) then why not allow vaping sales and use.
    On the other hand, just because a few things are BAD but legal does not mean that everything should be legal for sales and use.
    So, I guess that I am in the camp that an ounce of prevention is better than some deaths and potential long term lung illnesses for our citizens especially our younger ones.

  35. This seems like an opaque political stunt to me, but if we get to pass some regulations that result in a higher quality cartridge getting imported the sooner the better. My condolences go out to the business owners affected. Our medical infrastructure and required testing are a benefit to the consumer even in our now recreational market. But there are low quality products on the market as well. I’m all for raising the bar but I think it’s clear that the (hopefully one term) governor has overstepped for his own political benefit. Let’s be clear that we are now spending state resources time and money to solicit any self reported private medical information that could give Baker any more
    ammunition for his political ambitions. What a way for him to portray our commonwealth to the national stage.

  36. Banning the sale of these products is pointless and damaging for small local businesses that have invested in these products they can no longer sell. A barbershop/smoke shop on Harvard Ave has been keeping afloat through vape sales after trying everything to stay in business. It breaks my heart to think of them going under after all this time. they’re such nice people. I don’t drink or smoke or anything. But I don’t think I have a right to impose my personal choices on others. We allow alcohol and cigarettes. It’s hypocritical to ban vaping.

  37. There should be an exemption for medical cannabis and for nicotine inhalers prescribed for smoking cessation ( nicotrol) Patients who have been using these should not be denied access to medication without compelling evidence. As with all medication risks and benefits need to be carefully weighed

  38. I walked by a group of young people today and many had e-cigarettes in their mouths. They are not using this; method to get off cigarettes, they probably never smoked. How many of them will develop lung problems and die???? We now know that the process of vaping is associated with lung issues and has caused deaths. I do not understand why anyone would not support a ban.m I am fully in support of a ban.

  39. I’m neutral on vaping, but day one of the ban – I noticed many more people smoking cigarettes where I work downtown.

  40. I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Kaye. It doesn’t appear that licensed medical marijuana sales have caused any of these issues. Vaping anything is not healthy — especially for young people — but medical marijuana should still be made available by prescription from licensed vendors.

  41. First priority is to prevent unnecessary illness or death, and hence, a ban seems a prudent and appropriate step until more information is gathered. In the very short-term, scientists and public health experts could quickly determine if vaping is the primary cause of recent deaths. Would agree with an “exemption” from the ban for approved/certified medicinal marijuana dispenseries and devices; which can be worked on immediately even with the overall ban in place. However, those exemptions should be carefully proscribed, monitored and enforced, to avoid loopholes sought by the unscrupulous (recreational users or people motivated by profit incentives).

    While it may seem unfair to some that the ban also prohibits those who have switched to vaping from actual smoking, the many illnesses and deaths scream for further investigation to prevent more such dire negative outcomes — no matter how “benign” the vapers’ goals, desires, or outcomes might be. This is a public health issue, and we need robust investigation to determine if vaping is causing the deaths. As someone said earlier, we would do something drastic (bans, spraying chemicals, investing research dollars, providing alternatives, etc) were this about EEE virus (or lead in drinking water, or noxious fumes from a smokestack, etc.), so why not vaping given what we have learned so far?

  42. With 3 teenage boys and a known connection to serious, short term health consequences, including death ( and we are not talking about maybe you will get cancer in 30 years ), vaping scares the heck out of me. Vaping may be a path to kicking cigarettes but it may be a path the other way too. I smoothed as a teen an quit be moving to light cigarettes the then pure will power. The FDA just said they were too slow in taking action. If the tobacco industry lobbyists were not so powerful I would guess tobacco products would be banned. I do worry about black market. The governor is right with the temp ban until we know more. I do feel bad for the retailers but they are selling a drug. When a drug company has a serious adverse affect it can be pulled from the market.

  43. I would say that the risks of teens of getting hooked on Vaping threatens to undo years of progress that prevented Big Tobacco from targeting kids. These flavored vaping products are being aimed at kids and unless action is taken we are going to have the economic, social and health cost of Vaping taking over where smoking once reigned in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Lobbyists are already pushing back (with significant cash reserves). They (ironically) have targeted the Trump administration ban, and now are fighting bans in NY and San Francisco (both Liberal bastions). Put science and kids first. Full stop.

  44. Thanks for the question Will.

    Baker did the right thing. I am feeling bad for those that need THC but before vape, there were options. For a four month period, let’s go there.

    For those that think it is only illegal vape products, they don’t have enough knowledge to know that. Even “legitimate” products are a problem.

    All these vape products are awful until proven otherwise. Knowing from first hand experience, seeing many young adults and teens using these products and the impact on them mentally and physically is very clear. This is a huge problem.

    It wasn’t until recently when a Belmont High girl was in the hospital for five days with a vape related illness did many of these kids start thinking twice.

    I do have to state a comment on Grant’s quote above (I don’t believe, “vaping devices have become the most common tobacco product used by youth.”) if he feels this way, he doesn’t have teenagers or isn’t close to this part of our community. It is rampant. Nothing like I have ever seen before.

    Parenting is hard enough. Vaping availability has made it harder.

    I did like Kellie’s comment, we need to crack down. Why is the penalty $1,000 for each product in each case. If they sell the product in these four months, or sell to a minor when the ban is lifted, shut their business down for one week. Have a real consequence to make them think twice and be more stringent on who they sell to.

  45. It seems crazy that we are letting people buy weed legally to avoid the dangers of the black market and now we are pushing people onto the black market for vape products. I spoke to someone today who has used vaping to end a long dependence on cigarettes and he was outraged.

    1. I know first hand that vaping is definitely an issue for kids our age. Whether its causing disease or not, it is for sure not good for you. That being said , vapes weren’t created for kids, and when people say that companies like juul are, “advertising vaping to teens” I highly disagree. I have never seen an ad for a vape, and the only vaping advertising I have ever witnessed is by other kids snapchats. Whoever created juul did not attend for kids to use them, and they are clearly better for you the cigarettes, so even though I do not think teens or kids should try vaping, they still need to be used as a tool to help adult smokes kick their habit.

  46. I 100% support Governor Baker with his ban. Just because another states has it legalized doesn’t mean Massachusetts should ease up on a public health concern for the sake of dollars. This was the argument made for things like fireworks and firearms. I would credit Governor Baker for being the first in the nation in having a state-wide ban as well as being a model person who is willing to work with democrats despite taking a hit from the republican party for not being more Trump-like.

  47. I don’t support overall bans based on limited evidence – I believe that more regulation, research, and public information are key to addressing this problem. I also don’t understand Gov Baker’s priorities – for example, why not declare a climate change emergency, given the mounting crises faced by hundreds of thousands in the Commonwealth who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change? Also, I fear that this takes away from the more widespread impacts of other crises like the opiod crisis.

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