Washington to become the fourth state to ban flavored e-cigarettes as US vaping death toll surges to 15

  • Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order asking the state’s Board of Health to issue the emergency rule at its next meeting   
  • The four-month ban will apply to flavored nicotine products as well as products containing THC
  • New York, Michigan and Rhode Island have also announced temporary bans on flavored products and Massachusetts has issued a month ban on all products 
  • 805 cases of vaping-related illness have been reported across the US with 15 deaths in 12 states

Washington will become the fourth state to ban flavored vaping products amid the slew of mysterious lung illnesses that have sickened hundreds across the country.

Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order on Friday asking the state’s Board of Health to issue the emergency rule at its next meeting, scheduled for October 9. 

The ban, slated to last four months, will apply to products containing nicotine as well as THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. 

It will not apply at tribal shops, but the governor’s office said the administration is reaching out to tribal governments for their cooperation. 

Public health officials have long been alarmed about sharp increases in youth vaping and Washington is no exception. 

The percentage of Washington high school seniors who reported vaping jumped from 20 percent in 2016 to 30 percent in 2018.

Health experts say exposure to nicotine at a young age increases the likelihood of long-term addiction and other problems such as lung disease.

‘We need to act for the public health of our people,’ said Inslee. ‘I’m confident this executive order will save lives.’

New York, Michigan and Rhode Island were the first states that have announced at least temporary bans.  

Meanwhile Massachusetts has gone the farthest, issuing a four-month ban on all vaping products – flavored or not. 

President Donald Trump has announced his administration’s plans to ban flavored vaping products nationwide.

The vaping industry has been heavily criticized for marketing flavors such as vanilla and mango that could appeal to kids.     

As of Tuesday, 805 cases of the illnesses have been reported across the US with 15 deaths in 12 states.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that its investigation into the outbreak is increasingly focused on products that contain the marijuana compound THC.  

Inslee’s order said the ban is necessary because even if a particular vaping ingredient or compound were conclusively linked to the illnesses, the state would have no way to identify which products contain the substance so they could be removed from store shelves. 

There are about 4,000 stores in Washington that sell nicotine vaping products, and there are about 480 licensed marijuana retailers who also may sell THC vaping devices or cartridges.

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One vape shop owner, Shaun D’Sylva, repeatedly interrupted Inslee’s news conference in Seattle on Friday to accuse him of misrepresenting the issue. 

D’Sylva, who runs Fatboy Vapors in Silverdale, said he and other vape-product vendors are interested in helping people stop smoking tobacco, but that Inslee’s action would cripple them.

Flavored vaping products make up about 85 percent of his sales, he said after the news conference.

‘Is the governor going to say: “We’re going to buy your inventory?”‘ D’Sylva said. ‘When the smoking rate goes up in 24 months I’m going to be sadly saying: “I told you so”.’

Inslee criticized the industry, saying: ‘Their interest is in making money. Our interest is in protecting the health of our children.’

The governor said he would like to do more about the public health threat posed by vaping, but he said the state’s authority to do so without further legislation was uncertain. 

Inslee said he is asking lawmakers to clarify the authority of the secretary of health to ban products amid a public health crisis even if a specific cause remains unknown.



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