The governor of Massachusetts on Tuesday declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s order appears to be the first of its kind in the nation, though at least two states, Michigan and New York, have moved to ban vaping flavors.
The temporary Massachusetts ban, though, would apply to all vaping products and devices. It must be approved by a health council that is nearly certain to do so.
His announcement came amid growing concern about the health effects of vaping products, including deaths.
The administration said that as of Tuesday, 61 cases of potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping in Massachusetts had been reported to the state.
Three confirmed cases and two probable Massachusetts cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease have already been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products is exploding, and we are seeing reports of serious lung illnesses, particularly in our young people,” Baker said at a news conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse.
State health officials this month health began requiring the collection of data on potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping.
Baker said that during the temporary ban, the administration will work with medical experts, state and federal officials to better understand vaping illnesses and work on additional steps to address this public health crisis.
That, he said, could include legislation and regulations. The administration will also work on providing more resources for a public awareness campaign and smoking cessation programs, he said.
Michael Seilbach, assistant vice president for state public policy at the American Lung Association, praised the state’s move and said the federal Food and Drug Administration now needs to step up.
“From our perspective, it’s the absence of strong federal action by the FDA that is forcing states to have to make choices like this on how they are going to protect children and adults from the public health emergency of e-cigarettes,” he said.