SALEM, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown has called for a "temporary ban" on all flavored vaping products, according to a statement issued by her office on Friday. The order calls for a 180-day ban enforced through emergency powers held by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), the latter of which regulates cannabis products in the state.
“My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” said Governor Brown. "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."
My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians. That's why I'm directing state agencies to enact a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, as well as other sources or additives identified in cases of vaping-related illness or death. pic.twitter.com/ExKqbJB1m8— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) October 4, 2019
As of 10/1, a total of 1,080 confirmed & probable cases of lung injury associated w. e-cigarette use/vaping were reported from 48 states & one U.S. territory. 18 deaths were confirmed from 15 states. See latest findings from the ongoing investigation: https://t.co/Pz8b5HoeMv pic.twitter.com/f8L7GwlZfC— CDC (@CDCgov) October 3, 2019
There have now been two deaths in Oregon linked to the use of cannabis vaping products, according to prior statements by OHA. The agency has yet to specify any particular brands or flavors implicated in those cases.
"I want to be clear though: the safest option for Oregonians right now is to not use vaping products of any kind," Governor Brown continued. "Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape. 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."
The order also calls on state regulators to work on legislation that would "ban all flavored vaping products permanently, including those containing nicotine or THC" and make the companies that produce vaping liquids disclose all ingredients.
According to the Governor's statement, the ban includes "other sources or additives as they are identified in cases of vaping-related lung injury or death." The precise ramifications of that statement remain to be seen, when the investigation into vaping-related injuries is both ongoing and fairly opaque.
Brown's office says that e-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products used by Oregon’s youth, with 23 percent of Oregon 11th graders reporting using an e-cigarette in 2019, up from 13 percent in 2017.
Across the nation, health officials report more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related lung injuries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has focused its attention on black market cannabis vaping products, but has not ruled out legal cannabis or nicotine e-cigarettes in its investigation.
"The latest findings from the investigation into lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak," the CDC said.
According to the CDC, of 578 affected patients, 78 percent reported using products containing THC — the primary active chemical in cannabis. 37 percent said they exclusively used THC products. While about 58 percent said they used products containing nicotine, only 17 percent said that they only used nicotine products.
In her statement on Friday, Governor Brown called on the federal government to direct greater scrutiny at the cases of vaping-related illnesses:
“This order will help protect Oregon households in the short term, but federal action is long overdue to address this national public health crisis," said Gov. Brown. "It’s time for the FDA to regulate flavored vaping products and other additives for what they are: products that are addictive, dangerous, and targeted squarely at our youth.”
In addition to the temporary ban, Brown's executive order calls for state agencies to develop plans within 90 days regarding:
- Consumer warnings about the dangers of vaping
- Ingredient disclosure for vaping products
- Testing of vaping products to determine product safety
- Improving health care provider reporting of vaping-related lung injuries to OHA
- Increasing access to FDA-approved cessation services and methods
- Establishing a statewide prevention and education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping products