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Oregon joins vaping ban, plans for warning labels on products

Jason Schott

Oregon is the latest state to enact a temporary ban Friday on the sale of flavored vaping products, following the lead of states such as its neighbor Washington, New York, and Massachusetts.

The order from Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) imposes a 180-day ban on all flavored vaping products and on the sale of other sources or additives as they are identified in cases of vaping-related lung injuries or deaths. It also calls for state agencies to develop a plan for warning labels, ingredient disclosures, product safety testing and a campaign to discourage vaping.

In Oregon, eight cases have been reported, two of which resulted in death.

“My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” Gov. Brown said. “By keeping potentially unsafe products off of store shelves and out of the hands of Oregon’s children and youth, we prevent exposing more people to potentially dangerous chemical compounds, and help lessen the chance of further tragedy for any other Oregon family.”

This comes one day after the CDC announced that 18 people have died from the vaping-related lung illness that has swept the nation, with 1,800 people sickened.

Brown stressed the safest option for Oregonians is to not use vaping products of any kind.

"Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape,” Gov. Brown said. “Encourage your friends and family members to stop vaping immediately. Talk to your children about the dangers of vaping. The risks are far too high.”

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The illnesses first became apparent in the U.S. in March, with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the marijuana ingredient that causes a high, but some said they vaped only nicotine.

Brown said federal action "is long overdue to address this national public health crisis," and President Donald Trump has stated that he plans to ban flavored vaping products nationally.

The Oregon Health Authority had asked the governor for a six-month ban on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine and cannabis. The agency also urged Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of the illnesses.

The Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association said it was very grateful the governor did not implement a complete ban on cannabis vaping products, like Massachusetts did. The group told its members that technical questions and issues need to be worked out and that it will try to "ensure the government acts responsibly and makes evidenced-based decisions that do not needlessly harm the legal cannabis industry."

The ban is expected to go into effect in about a week after the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission ccomplete their work on rules to implement the ban, according to the governor’s office.

On Sept. 26, Gov. Brown asked the Health Authority for a list of six ways the state could prevent deaths and injuries from vaping after learning a second Oregonian had died from a vaping-related lung illness. The agency also suggested the state increase access to FDA-approved tobacco-cessation treatments like nicotine-replacement therapy and to convene a new work group to come up with more ideas.

Last Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on Twitter that her office started an investigation of the e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL.

State attorneys will examine the company’s role in selling what Rosenblum calls “addictive and dangerous products” to minors. She said the rise of e-cigarettes and vaping in Oregon is “beyond worrisome” — and she said since vaping became popular, the state has seen a barrage of advertising directed at young people.

The most popular tobacco products used by Oregon youth are e-cigarettes, which 23 percent of 11th graders reporting use in 2019, up from 13 percent two years ago.

STATES & CITIES THAT HAVE BANNED VAPING PRODUCTS:

New York

Michigan

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

San Francisco, Calif.

Boulder, Colo.

Carbondale, Colo.

The ban is being strongly supported by those in the health care industry, who say flavors like bubble gum and mint appeal to kids.

The Oregon Medical Association, the Oregon Nurses Association and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health systems released a statement that said limiting access to vaping will prevent lifelong addiction for some young people.

“This public health crisis has been decades in the making, and includes both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes,” the statement said. “That’s why we continue to advocate for raising the price of tobacco products and e-cigarettes. These actions are vital for preventing youth use and reducing overall rates for all types of tobacco use.”

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The FTC announced Thursday they were seeking information from e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., to provide info about their sales, advertising and promotions between 2015 and 2018 to better understand the growth in the market.

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