BOSTON (CBS) — Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts and ordered a four-month temporary ban on all vaping product sales.
The ban, which was approved by the Public Health Council, will go into effect immediately and last through Jan. 25, 2020. Local law enforcement will be in charge of enforcing the ban.
“I’m declaring this public health emergency because medical and disease control experts have been tracking a rapidly increasing number of vaping related illnesses that in some cases have led to death. 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 said.
There have been 61 reported cases in Massachusetts.
In 2017, 41 percent of teens in Mass. reported at least trying e-cigarettes and one in five said they used e-cigarettes regularly, according to the governor.
U.S. health officials say 530 people have now been diagnosed with vaping-related breathing illnesses.
Vaping pods can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
“While this four-month temporary ban is in effect, we will wait for the Federal Center for Disease Control to analyze the cases they are currently tracking. Our Department of Public Health will also continue to work with medical providers to review cases of this illness here in the Commonwealth,” said Baker. “With more information, we can then consider legislative action, new regulations, or whatever other tools we need to pursue available at our disposal.”
Massachusetts was the sixth state in the country to raise the minimum legal age for tobacco and vaping product sales from 18 to 21 last summer.
“Vaping products are marketed and sold in nearly 8,000 flavors that make them easier to use and more appealing to youth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
“Parents please talk to your kids about vaping. We understand that this can be a difficult topic to raise or to begin, but with resources provided through both of these public awareness campaigns, talking about vaping can be an important educational opportunity for both you and for your children,” she added.
“Vape pens and e-cigarettes are not safer alternatives to smoking and they cause serious harm here and across our country.”
Health Commissioner Monica Bharel also spoke at the announcement. “Our goal is simple: we do not want another generation of children to become addicted to nicotine. We started to hear about these cases of vaping associated pulmonary disease around the country and as you heard, we mandated reporting at the Department of Public Health and cases began to come in. We know that this is an issue, not only nationally, but here as well in Massachusetts…We do not know what is causing these illnesses, but the only thing in common in each one of these cases is the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products.”
Anyone looking to quit can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help.