On Tuesday, September 24, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker announced a temporary emergency ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts. This ban took effect immediately and will persist for the next four months; it has outlawed all vape products in the Commonwealth, regardless of type: nicotine and marijuana, flavored and unflavored. In addition to banning the sale of vape products, Baker also declared the situation a public health emergency. This ban and declaration are due to the more than 500 recent cases of “severe lung disease” that have occurred in the United States, which have taken the lives of at least nine people. While experts are still unsure of the exact causes of these recent illnesses, there is a strong suspicion that they are related to vape usage.
Governor Baker has made this executive decision in order to give doctors and medical researchers time to make more concrete conclusions regarding the respiratory illnesses and the negative effects of vaping. Other states, including New York and Michigan, have considered placing severe restrictions on the sale of vape products as well, but Massachusetts is the first to act on such an idea.
While some praise the Governor’s action and consider it a moral deed, others are extremely discontent. Vaping has become so popular that many smoke shops have a significant customer base committed only to vape. Owners of these smoke shops believe they will be out of business by the end of the four month ban; they will have to let their employees go and file for bankruptcy. The owner of one smoke and vape shop in Boston claims he will lose 85% of his clientele now that he can no longer sell vape products, and that he will most likely go out of business.
Many regular vape users are also upset, some citing that vaping has helped them quit smoking. Without the ability to vape, they say, they will relapse to regular cigarettes. Others have pointed out that vape products can still be bought out-of-state or even out-of-country online, which will allow some users to simply evade the ban. Still others view Governor Baker’s actions as an encroachment on their personal liberty to consume what they please.
Proponents of the ban would counter these points by highlighting the idea that our government has the right and obligation to protect consumers. Consumers have a right to know exactly what they are consuming, and how the latest scientific research says it will effect them. Baker hopes that this emergency ban will allow the attainment of more definitive information regarding the effects of vaping and its relation to the recent lung disease cases. In the meantime, the ban will make it more difficult for the citizens of Massachusetts to poison their bodies with vape.