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.

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145 Comments

  1. It is patently obvious that these products are a workaround designed to recruit children into addiction, brought into play just as enforcement against conventional tobacco sales to minors finally got sone teeth. The candy flavors were the dead giveaway. This first step towards effective control is long overdue.

  2. Vaping has been found to be very dangerous — even fatal. I think Governor Baker is doing the right thing by banning it — I actually think there should be a federal ban. Legalization of marijuana is not the smartest thing either.

  3. On the one hand I support people’s freedom of choice, even to do stupid self-destructive things (provided that it doesn’t impact the common good),
    and to make their own decisions concerning their bodies — Government
    often doesn’t know what’s best and political pressures can impinge with
    toxic effect — especially when it comes to women’s reproductive choices.
    On the other hand I don’t have much sympathy for businesses that cry
    “I’m going bankrupt!” The public good must always trump profits —
    otherwise it’s just blood money.

  4. Will, listen to the epidemiologist. She knows what she’s talking about; most of the rest of the people commenting here (heck, including me!) don’t.

    If I understand correctly, 5 out of the 805 cases reported to the CDC were from Massachusetts. That’s 0.62%. Massachusetts has 2.11% of the population of the country. In other words, there are a lot fewer illnesses being caused by vaping in Massachusetts than in the rest of the country. Given that, it’s not clear that the harm to legitimate vaping users, especially medical marijuana users, of banning vaping here is justified.

  5. As the father of a high school student, I can tell you that a year ago nicotine vaping was already widespread throughout Belmont high school before parents or teachers realized what was going on. There is little or no smell, it is hard to detect when used in the home or school, I find vaping carriages on sidewalk on the way to school, vapes are bought and sold via Snapchat and other social media outlets. It is distressing to think that a whole generation of kids that might not have picked up cigarettes is nevertheless becoming addicted to nicotine by vaping. If the ban slows this down, that is a good thing but I agree with others the highly-regulated medical marijuana vapes should be excluded.

  6. Dear Senator:

    I am extremely heartened that action is being taken to stem what I see as a seriously wrong turn in the long and arduous battle against nicotine addition and the damage and cost it imposes on the body and on society. Vaping is just another way to get hooked on nicotine and a more insidious means of administration.
    I see absolutely no credibility in the claim of some black market that will spring up if e-cigarettes are banned, and cannot imagine that suggestion being a serious reason to hold back on getting this new cancer/illness/addiction mechanism off the shelves. Watching people vape is like watching someone shoot up (have you noticed the intensity with which people suck on the pens?) and the paraphernalia associated with it is now littering our streets and parks and sidewalks. If you’re hearing strong objections to a ban from vaping advocates, you’re hearing from addicts. I strongly urge you to support the Governor’s proposed ban.

    Thank you for seeking input on this important public health matter.

    1. Lol sorry for bringing down the neighborhood Dolores – what a scandal that you had to witness people manage an addiction in public! The way you dramatize the act of injecting drugs and then compare it to vaping seems naive and petty – are we talking about heroin in movies or real life? Shame on you for using IV users as some kind of gold standard for human degeneracy and then insulting people with a different addiction in the same breath. I hereby invoke the power of the Dark Lord that your street be covered in syringes and Juul pods – hail Satan!

  7. I think it is very wise and prudent that Governor Baker made this decision. Being in research my whole life I am aware of chemicals used in products deemed safe for marketing, however the complexity of delivery and metabolism by the body can show adverse effects. This is a broad statement as I am not at liberty to disclose particular research results.

  8. While not voicing an opinion one way or the other on the temporary ban, I am very interested in the public debate on this. I am anticipating that many of those who have been anti lifting the prohibition on marijuana will see this as evidence of the righteousness of their position, rather then recognizing that the problem is primarily or exclusively in the illegal market. If it is possible, I am attaching two recent articles on the issue from The Economist. If attachments are not possible, I’ll send them in an email.

  9. This is not a good idea as it will drive people to buy on the street where most of the contaminated products seem to be coming from. Think back to the days of Prohibition when liquor was banned. There should have been more evidence that store bought products are the cause. This will hurt small businesses and create worse problems.

  10. This is hurting businesses (smokeless tobacco shops, medical marijuana shops), and medical marijuana patients the most. Many businesses will be forced to close. MMJ Patients may prefer to vape. Please express a need to lift the ban!

  11. I have already emailed the governor to congratulate him on his principled, courageous act. Massachusetts should be proud that he has taken a this stand.

  12. I feel like this decision has been made reactively rather than with any measured consideration of the evidence, and without considering the effects it could have on medical marijuana users. I have a good friend with Ehlers-Danloss syndrome, which causes her to suffer from chronic pain issues. She uses marijuana vaping products as a major part of her pain relief, which allows her to treat herself specifically when the pain hits without having to consume, say, an entire joint through smoking (which she hated). Vaping was also more convenient and discreet if she is not at home and in a great deal of pain. She is also not allowed to smoke in her apartment so the vaping canisters allowed her to control pain without creating large quantities of damaging smoke. This decision, especially since it came without warning and without consideration of medical users, has put her in a very difficult situation as she was almost out and is now struggling to stretch what she has left while trying to come up with another solution to manage her pain without angering her landlord. She has been very stressed and worried, especially as she already had to take disability leave because of her disease and was finally getting back to work and doing better. I think any ban should be made with careful consideration of the facts, which seem to indicate it is more of a black market problem in the first place and therefore this is just going to exacerbate it, and I don’t recall any instances of vaping marijuana being linked to these deaths or illnesses (I may have missed it but I thought it was all tobacco-based?). If a ban is deemed necessary it should be done with consideration for medical marijuana vapers, perhaps with a waiver system for those with demonstrated medical need.

  13. I don’t agree with the ban on medical marijuana vapor products. As a medical patient, that is my main way of dosing. Products were immediately taken off the shelves with little to no announcement. I agree with the ban on tobacco products especially poorly produced and not pure products.

  14. I am not a fan of the Governor’s, but on this I agree! Not happy that it will hurt business owners (after all liquor stores sell products that kill many more people). I don’t think that government should have a say in what an adult can and cannot do for/to themself. The key word being adult. Children on the other had should be protected. Make it legal for anyone over 21 years of age. After that they are on their own.

  15. Second hand smoke is a problem with vaping as well as regular cigarettes.
    I was standing at a buss stop and found I had gotten an itch like feeling in my lung and 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 lung itch and urge to cough went away.
    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.
    Just because we allow cigarettes to be available to some people doesn’t mean we should allow all and every self destructive device out there for people to have.
    Why bad decisions are popular is truly beyond me but we don’t have to make it easy for people to make them.

  16. I disagree with Governor Baker’s ban. People have the right to make their own choices and decisions. We should not interfere with people’s lives unless they are asking for help. Additionally, businesses are being told to get rid of products that were purchased prior to the vaping ban. Those business owners are now losing money and are at risk of potentially losing jobs, which leads to unemployment, the inability to support their family, pay their bills and in some cases depression. If someone has been told and made aware that a product could potentially kill them, then they have been warned and should be free to make a decision to use it or not.

  17. The temporary ban sits well with me. Let’s try the precautionary principle for once. You can compare vaping to any other legal or acceptable but harmful activity, but that’s not very worthwhile – it’s okay, and never too late, to take action on something harmful.

    Between predatory marketing practices on young people, deaths in 10 states and so many new small businesses who probably don’t know what kind of adulterated products they’re bringing in to sell, I think it’s okay to do some research.

    From what I’ve read, it’s up to towns to enforce the ban on retailers, so hey, keep trying to buy the products if you think your town will look the other way.
    By the way, I truly am sorry that it affects medical marijuana patients, and hopefully they can reverse that piece.

  18. I understand what Governor Baker is trying to do but I think it’s a bit short-sighted and misguided. As someone who used vaping to quit smoking, I can attest to the fact that it works for that purpose. I can also attest to the fact that when I quit vaping it was because it felt like vaping was doing considerably more damage to my lungs than cigarettes ever did. Thankfully, I’ve now quit both.

    That having been said, making your own “vape juice” is easy enough to do, and easy enough to screw up, that the problem will very likely get worse and not better.

  19. I don’t have a horse in this race, but I do know that people that want it are just going to go to New Hampshire – just like we did for beer on Sunday until a few years ago – or to Rhode Island or Connecticut.

    We don’t outright ban cigarettes, because they don’t make people sick instantly. We don’t outright ban cars, despite the fact that more than 350 people died in 2017 from automobiles. I could name quite a few other things we don’t ban despite them causing hundreds of fatalities each year in Massachusetts.

    So what has the ban really solved? Other than to put a few Massachusetts businesses out of business? A few jobs. A little bit of tax revenue.

    I don’t get it.

  20. I never smoked cigarettes and I certainly would never vape. I am 73 years old. I watched my father suffer from lung cancer and brain cancer and he died at the age of 59 on my 21st birthday. I desperately tried to get him to stop smoking he smoked three packs of Camels a day ( I remember the commercials from the tobacco companies, with supposed doctors saying that smoking was not a health hazard, they are probably all dead). When my father was told he had lung cancer he stopped smoking that day, unfortunately, it was too late and he died in less than a year. I wished that the tobacco companies would have gone out of business and still do. Cigarettes should have been banned many years ago I commend CVS for stopping selling tobacco products. I am a Veteran and escort veterans to and from VA hospitals. I have noticed that the veterans who smoke remind me of my father and I encourage them to stop smoking. Vaping is as disgusting a habit as smoking and should have never been invented and should certainly be banned forever.

  21. First off, a Public Health Crises was announced, after, per the news accounts, the Governor met with leading health experts. So I think we all need to allow that this was not done in some dictatorial way. I think the Governor made a careful decision after detailed discussions re the ins and outs of a ban.
    Secondly there are alternatives for smokers. As a ex smoker myself, have been for near 15 years, I know those alternatives work.
    Thirdly, use of vaping does not really seem to contain the need for nicotine. If it did, use of vaping, I would think, would decrease. As smoking has decreased, smokers needing help to get off nicotine would be less or should be less. NOT more. So it does appear to me vaping became such a big business it actually rivaled cigarettes! That sort of shows the lie this product really is producing any positive results. It may indeed be increasing addictions!
    Fourth, this is a product that got on the market before any real study was done on its effects. And clearly the addition of all sorts of contents within a vaping device, often unknowns, you are buying a very dogey product that may in fact do real harm, just as bad street drugs are doing and have done for so many. At the very least a chance to study and learn what is causing disease and death ought to be given. Four months may not be enough but maybe scientists will be able to give some answers where at present we know zilch!
    So lastly, the Governors ban was not done lightly, and we need as a society, all of us, to recognize the real need to get some answers before moving forward with allowing vaping. Yes people will buy it on the black market, or go to NH to get it. But people always do very stupid things and it really is hard to outlaw stupidity. But that does not mean we should not officially close off the sale of an apparent dangerous product ’till we know more about it. People are still free to be stupid.

  22. If you have ever run 5 miles and enjoyed it, you will naturally avoid inhaling toxic vapor. Protect your lungs and neither smoking policy nor the vaping ban will have any effect on you.

  23. I’m not in agreement with the ban on vaping. It’s a bandaid solution for a complex issue. What happens when the ban ends? And what about the merchants left with monetary losses due to the ban. This could lead to a black market which will provide illicit vaping products.

  24. Good for Governor Baker! I am glad to see he is Pro-Active in putting a ban on Vaping as harm continues to occur to our young until we know more, even if it is only temporary.

  25. The immediate total ban on selling all vaping products for all ages is too extreme. The illnesses and the 7 deaths attributed to vaping so far, is far less than from smoking. I think that banning the flavored vaping products is a reasonable compromise. There are so many different ones, they will probably never determine the safety or harmfulness of them all anyhow, with the exception of menthol which has been used a lot in cigarettes already.

  26. Listen, people have died & that’s horrible. However, they aren’t dying from smoking THC/CBD oil from legit dispensaries. They are dying because stores like 7/11 or your local smoke shop(not dispensary) are selling what they claim is CBD. The only places that have legit THC/CBD are the dispensaries the state approved. So here we have a case of a bad apple ruining the bunch. The ban should only be for non state approved facilities. This ban is hurting patients who rely on CBD to treat serious ailments. Governor Baker has gone too far in a total ban and should rescind and reissue a ban on non state approved sales of THC/CBD vaping products. He’s lost my vote because of this.

  27. This is a difficult issue to assess to which I do not think there is a simple solution. One obvious question about Governor Baker’s ban is what we will know four months from now that will give us a better basis or more evidence on which to formulate a durable policy? It will take years before we will understand and appreciate the long-term effects of vaping., assuming that the idea of relying on science and scientists to provide evidence on which to base our decisions has not been entirely rejected by then. On one hand, e-cigarettes seem to be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes or a lesser evil so pragmatism says it is better to have them available. On the other hand e-cigarettes are probably not risk-free in terms of their users’ health, so we should try to distinguish between persuading young people not to start using them, while encouraging existing smokers to switch to them if they cannot quit smoking entirely. This line of thinking brings us to the question of marketing.

    The marketing of e-cigarettes is very questionable and I have little doubt that the executives of the companies involved, like the Philip Morris (now Altria) of old, have few moral or other scruples preventing them from pushing their products in their own personal interests as well as those of their companies regardless of other considerations. It is unclear whether the illnesses reported that have been linked to vaping are the result of chemicals added by third parties rather than the manufacturers’ products themselves. It is significant that Altria has taken a stake in the leading e-cigarette company Juul (does it expect that this company will become the Juul in their Crown?).

    Reports of the significant use of vaping by high school students, i.e. new smokers, are very disturbing, and it seems that this trend is encouraged by the sweet and dessert-flavored varieties. So it seems to me that a more nuanced approach to vaping, rather than an outright ban makes more sense, including banning flavored vapes and cracking down on how e-cigarettes are advertised and marketing. Social media companies also have a role to play in trying to eliminate messages that are deemed to be dangerously misleading about vaping products in addition to certain other kinds of content and videos. Unfortunately we cannot rely on the decency, responsibility or self-regulation of suppliers to protect vaping consumers so serious controls are needed. But they should be wielded like a scalpel, not a sledgehammer, recognizing the power of addictive products and even the attraction of indulging in an activity that is banned. As for Governor Baker’s ban, the immediate questions are, (a) What may happen (as noted) after the 4 months are up, and (b) if New Hampshire does nothing in the spirit of Live Free Or (And?) Die, how effective is the ban likely to be?

  28. I’m reaching the conclusion that action was needed but this action is way too broad. Providing an exception for medical marijuana patients would have been a reasonable compromise. Also, I’m hearing that the vaping ban includes the sale of devices for vaporizing marijuana in its dry flower form, which seems entirely ridiculous, since all reports of vaping illness have been associated with vaping oil only.

  29. Trying to prove the danger is a waste of time and money. Guarantee that the products are correctly labeled and sourced from regulated markets that have to tell the truth about what’s in there. Have the ability to find and eliminate the liars, the cheats, and the mistakes.
    Forget the danger. The list of legal dangerous products is huge. Folks make their/our own decisions on those. Education always tries but often fails. That’s the story of the ages.

  30. This ban is simply bad public health policy; the end result will be to shift the sale of THC vapes back to the black market, while hurting the patients who need THC concentrates from Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMDs) for symptom relief. It will also create knockoff, black market products of both THC and nicotine vape products, hurting both medical and recreational users alike.

    This move is particularly concerning as it affects medical patients in the Commonwealth’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program; patients with cancer, wasting syndromes, multiple sclerosis, and agoraphobia. Unless there is some as of yet unreleased data, there have been no reported cases of lung disease associated with legally purchased THC vape products in Massachusetts, and only one from an RMD nationwide. Of the total cases reported in public data, to our awareness, only a single case is associated with a product produced by a Regulated Marijuana Dispensary (in Oregon).

    Again, a ban on regulated THC vape products will have no effect whatsoever on the actual problem, which is black market THC products. Recent CDC data confirms this interpretation. Once again, it will worsen the problem as those now purchasing these products from the regulated market will move to black market products.

    Recent media reports have centered around counterfeit and illicit THC product pipelines; this ban won’t address that, and will increase demand for Chinese and Cartel manufactured products.

    This decision by the Governor, and the decision by the Public Health Council to approve it, is a reflexive, counterproductive decision that is not based in science or the evidence we have to date.

  31. I am torn about this as well. I am concerned about the reports of lung injuries from vaping, but for now it’s not clear how widespread the problem is or which vaping products cause it. My concern about a blanket ban is that it will almost certainly cause many vapers to switch to conventional smoking, which is known to be very dangerous (and a leading cause of death). I’m also concerned that blanket ban will make it harder to figure out what exactly is causing this illness and how it can be stopped. In the end, smoking and vaping are probably both dangerous to some extent and we should be thinking about how to minimize the total harm with the information we have.

  32. Given that the federal health authorities did not do their job before these products hit the market, it is now left to the states, again, to pick up the pieces. I’m always uneasy about “nanny state” interference in personal choices but this appears to be a case of public health concern. The issue remains: How will a permanent decision be made and by whom?

  33. Hi Will,
    Good seeing you if only briefly at Siobhan and Shelley’s shindig Saturday.
    Regarding Gov. Baker’s decision:
    Small shop owners need compensation for these four months so that they will not go bankrupt.

  34. I totally support the ban. It is so sad to see human beings are relying on chemicals to get by. Similar to the opiod war in China 140 years ago. The difference is that this time is the rich American’s getting addicted to Vaping, THC and synthetic drugs.

    Very sad to see this. This does not bode well.

  35. Vaping in general is a complicated situation from a public health perspective. On the one hand, I don’t think that any reasonable person could argue that vaping is better than not vaping in the absence of all other factors. Lungs are designed to breathe air, and only air. But there are numerous other factors, and it is equally clear that vaping is better than smoking combustible cigarettes, both for users and for the environment.

    Use among teenagers is definitely worrying, and a “safer than cigarettes =/= safe” campaign is absolutely needed. I think there’s also some merit to the argument that the social stigma against vaping isn’t nearly as high as the stigma against cigarettes and tobacco, which could increase the number of nicotine users in general, which is not good since nicotine is a highly addictive and potentially carcinogenic stimulant. But the best solution is probably to officially legally group vaping and e-cigarettes with combustible cigarettes and tobacco.

    The main difference between combustible and e-cigarettes from a public health law perspective is probably that much of the legal ability to regulate cigarette smoking in public derives from the idea of second-hand smoking, i.e. it isn’t just hurting you, therefore the government can regulate for the purposes of protecting the public. This does not apply to vaping, and therefore may mean that e-cigarettes cannot legally be restricted in public places by the government.

    According to research by Juul, people who use vaping as a tool for smoking cessation are several times more likely to succeed than people who use other nicotine replacement tools, and many eventually kick their nicotine addictions and stop vaping entirely. This is certainly biased, and further research is absolutely needed, but I think it would be a greater public health harm than good to ban vaping.

    Frankly, I would’ve used the current situation to somehow say that e-cigarettes/vaping are legally considered the same as combustible cigarettes/tobacco products, rather than ban vaping. That would put stronger restrictions of vaping, including selling to minors, enable smoking cessation resources to go to vaping cessation as well, and make it difficult to vape in public to the same extent (thereby maintaining the stigma). If they’re tied together closely enough, we might even be able to prevent vaping companies from arguing that they can’t be regulated in the same way because they don’t have the same results of second hand smoke, at least for a few years.

  36. The lack of FDA oversight. The power of the producers to lobby for laws in their favor. The addictiveness that has been demonstrated. These all point to a ton of money going toward healthcare costs. Even if I can’t understand scientific papers, I do know where there is (vape) smoke, there’s fire. These things, in my mind, merit Gov. Baker’s pumping the brakes on the sale of vape cartridges until we have more of a chance for independent research and useful empirical evidence.

  37. Late to the party, but I am totally against this ban for a number of reasons.

    1. We should not grant the government emergency powers except as a last resort to an existential threat. This is not Pearl Harbor or an alien invasion. It’s a poorly understood illness that has affected a few hundred people in a country of 350 million. All of these people have voluntarily consumed a substance any reasonable person would understand to be risky. How is this a crisis compared with any number of other modern problems? I want to vote for my government and have their actions constrained by clear laws. Every “public health emergency” is a step in the wrong direction.

    2. Personal choice. Adults should have the freedom to ingest whatever substances they see fit. Government should focus solely on making sure products contain what is advertised and enforcing age related restrictions.

    3. A ban helps the black market and punishes legitimate purveyors. The morning the ban was announced, every black market cartridge seller in the state woke up in a great mood with an inbox full of orders. Meanwhile, dispensary owners who had jumped through every hoop and taken considerable risk in order to participate in the legal market were forced to pull the (government tested and approved!) product off their shelves and in some cases, close their doors. It’s a familiar echo of practically every War on Drugs policy, and all so our governor could score some quick political points and be seen to be “doing something” about this “crisis”.

    The vaping cat is out of the bag, and it’s not going back in. Do we need more research into safety and long-term effects? Definitely. Even more, we need a regulatory and commercial structure that encourages legitimate players to prioritize their own customers’ health and minimizes the black market.

    I voted for this current administration but cannot see myself doing so again. Just say no to emergency powers.

  38. I came from a family with two close relatives deceased from smoking related cancer. And I can’t over-state how dangerous this kinds of products are. (And especially to the youth)
    Sadly, these specially interest groups are too powerful in pushing our legislative body to legalize these addictive (drug) products (THC, WEED, Vaping) based on the sole concern of profitability.

  39. I personally think the ban is pointless. The only reason that it is actually killing people, is because those are the people who are smoking 2 packs of pods a day. What is the point of having a temporary ban? Because as soon as it is over, people are just going to do it again. Juuling or using any kind of vape products is a choice or risk. If they choose to make that risk, that is on them. It is hard to break away from addiction but it is a choice at first.

  40. i think the ban is great and worth it, only if they find out whats killing these people. it would be better if cigs were gone completely as those over the years almost gurentee you cancer if you keep up. but overall its a good move for people to stop.

  41. I believe the ban of vaping products is not a smart idea, because vaping was originally made for cigarette smokers to slow down and stop smoking. If a kid wants to vape and ruin his lungs it’s their problem. But I don’t think it should be taken from someone that is using it for a reason.

  42. I don’t have much to say about this whole thing so I’m kind of neutral about the ban. I’m not saying that I am okay with vaping. I know what it does to people. I get why they banned it because it’s negatively affecting people’s health but I don’t know too much about it so it’s hard to have an opinion on it. I think no matter what people are going to continue to do it and find a way to get the things they need for the vapes.

  43. I believe that this ban is a smart and important decision to make. As a high school student, seeing the everyday major affects that vaping has on my peers, it scares me on how addictive and destructive these products are to people my age. I think it will be interesting to see how people will react to the absence of these products. I have never tried vaping, because i’ve never been attracted to the idea of destroying my lungs. I hope that this ban will be an eye opener in seeing how addictive vaping really is.

  44. The vaping ban could be a good and bad thing for people in Massachusetts. Kids could be going to worse things like cigarettes and dip. Kids could also be on the way to losing the addiction of nicotine, but it has been too long so kids will now have withdrawals and it will be bad

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