Charlie Baker, the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has recently declared a statewide public health emergency in an attempt to regulate the influx of health problems associated with e-cigarette products. The regulation temporarily bans the sale of e-cigarettes (i.e. “vaping”) products sold online or in stores in the state of Massachusetts from September 25, 2019 through January 25, 2020.
Since October 22, 2019, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention has reported that vaping and
e-cigarette usage has been the cause of over 1,600 related injury cases throughout the United States (with the exception of Alaska). According to the CDC, evidence from the cases indicates Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis -- was present among some of the patients reporting symptoms. The statewide ban currently includes the sale of e-cigarette products sold by medical marijuana dispensaries. Unfortunately, the ban does not prohibit people from obtaining vaping products by buying them outside the state or online through unregulated distributors.
According to a press release issued in response to the statewide ban, Governor Charlie Baker insists that the purpose of the ban is only to “temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that [the administration] can work with medical experts to identify what is making people sick." Alongside Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito has raised her own concerns about vaping products, suggesting that the range of flavors offered by businesses or third party distributors has raised the appeal of the products among younger populations.
E-cigarette products were originally conceived as an alternative to cigarettes in an effort to curb nicotine addiction. Currently, there is no regulatory standard that e-cigarette manufacturers must follow pertaining to the types of substances they must use in their products. Along with the known and highly addictive substance of nicotine, Diethylene Glycol, Formaldehyde, and more toxic substances are commonly found in vaping liquids. Since vaping is a new product and industry, the effects of frequent, long term use of such products are unknown. As vaping rises in popularity and more people use unregulated products it is uncertain what consequences lie ahead.
Consequently, local Massachusetts business owners who profited off the growth of e-cigarette sales fear that the new ban will severely impact their businesses. The rise in demand of vaping products and it’s addictive qualities has undoubtedly marked it as a fast-growing industry with never-ending profits and taking up a large part of the state’s economy. Regardless of the economic benefits tied to the sale of e-cigarettes, the unknown health concerns pose a greater risk. Time will tell if the four month ban will affect Massachusetts e-cigarette and vaping businesses and it’s users, but at what cost?