With more than 500 people diagnosed with vaping related lung issues in the U.S. and eight deaths linked to the "smoking alternative," Massachusetts has become the first state to ban all vaping products for the near term.
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Gov. Charlie Baker announced the move Tuesday afternoon while declaring a public health emergency. Baker's decision is a four-month temporary ban on all devices and all flavored and non-flavored vaping products, made with both nicotine and marijuana.
“We’re declaring this public health emergency because medical and disease control experts have been tracking the rapidly increasing number of vaping related illnesses that in some cases have led to death,” Baker said at a press conference in the Boston statehouse. “We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses.”
Baker's decision came just shortly before the Wall Street Journal reported that Juul Labs Inc. — the leading e-cigarette maker — is preparing a staff restructuring in advance of potential slower sales following the current vaping backlash. The San Francisco-based Juul has been a highflying start-up which according to the Journal had 225 employees and boasts more than 3,900 today.
Massachusetts public health officials have received reports of 61 possible vaping-related illnesses.
As the ban goes into effect, the state will establish a “standing order” for nicotine replacement products, such as gum and patches, allowing anyone to buy those products at a pharmacy and use their health insurance to pay for them with or without a prescription.
The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, a trade association representing the state’s convenience stores, said in a statement that the organization will immediately notify its members to remove the products from their shelves.