Oregon Health Authority Suggests Temporary Ban on Sale of Vaping Products
The possibility of a ban on the sale of vaping products loomed closer late Friday as the Oregon Health Authority recommended Oregon Gov. Kate Brown consider imposing a temporary six-month moratorium on the sale of all vaping items.
The ban was the most dire among a range of options the health agency laid out. The agency stressed it was not addressing the matter of Brown’s legal authority to impose a sale ban.
Brown's office late Friday said state lawyers are reviewing a ban and other options and that "in the coming weeks" Brown will work with state agencies "to determine a path forward under Oregon law that protects the public health of all Oregonians when it comes to vaping products."
In its memo to Brown, the health agency put the ban as the top item recommended for consideration: “Implement a six-month temporary moratorium on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine, and cannabis, while the federal investigation is underway and Oregon’s evaluation of the ban is conducted. This moratorium should include online sales in Oregon. These options are provided independent of and without consideration of legal authority or approval."
The ban or other options “would require review, coordination and implementation assistance from the Oregon Department of Justice and other state agencies,” the health agency wrote.
The agency also said the state could increase availability of tobacco-cessation methods.
And it also suggested “statewide prevention campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping and combustible products with a link to cessation services.” The campaign would include signs in retail stores warning of the risks of vaping.
In addition, the state could ask the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate vaping products and establish a moratorium on Internet sales of tobacco and a moratorium on advertising of vaping products.
The state could also convene a work group to come up with short- and long-term strategies, the health agency said.
The list of options came just a day after the health agency urged Oregonians to stop vaping immediately, following confirmation of a second vaping-related death in the state. Brown earlier in the week had asked for options by Friday.
Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s health officer, said Thursday he expects more vaping-related illnesses and deaths in the state.
The moves came after the death of a second Oregonian who used cannabis vaping products and succumbed to a severe respiratory illness. In all, five Oregonians have been documented as having vaping-related illnesses, with three of those now recovering, and two dying. The illness were all caused by vaping of cannabis products bought at state-licensed cannabis stores, the state said.
Concern about vaping-related illnesses and deaths has abruptly swept the nation in recent weeks, catching up with a vaping craze that has been building for several years. People, especially young people, vape a wide range of compounds, from flavors to tobacco and cannabis.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state, apparently the first of its kind in the nation.
Oregon officials said no vaping products are safe, including those using tobacco or cannabis.
Hundreds of stores across the state sell vaping products, whether tobacco or cannabis.
“People should stop vaping immediately,” said Sidelinger. “If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit.”
"No level of vaping is safe," he said.
OHA officials say the most recent death was an individual who had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms.
Nationally, there have been more than 800 cases, primarily among youths and young adults, in 46 states and one U.S. territory, the state said. A total of 12 deaths, including Oregon’s , have been reported in 10 states.
Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain.
Federal authorities have not identified the root cause of the vaping deaths and injuries, but all cases have involved e-cigarette use or vaping. Experts are uncertain whether there is a specific chemical or other compound that is causing the illnesses.
People should not switch from vaping to smoking traditional combustible products such as cigarettes, because they, too, are addictive and hazardous, Sidelinger said.
You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].