SALEM, Ore. — At the request of Governor Brown, officials at the Oregon Health Authority have provided a set of options as a response to lung illnesses in the state and around the country that have been linked to vaping.
On Thursday, OHA revealed that a second death in the state had been linked to vaping a cannabis product, prompting Governor Brown to demand that the agency suggest response options within 24 hours.
Although the majority of vaping-related lung illnesses have been linked to products containing THC, the active chemical in cannabis, the OHA's suggestions do not make a distinction between vaping devices containing nicotine, cannabis, or anything else.
A national CDC investigation has increasingly steered toward unregulated cannabis vape cartridges containing unknown additives, although the agency has not ruled out any other products — including nicotine e-cigarettes, which the agency says have accounted for some of the lung injury cases.
OHA said that each of the options it provided would "require review, coordination and implementation assistance from the Oregon Department of Justice and other state agencies."
The (verbatim) list of option provided by OHA to Governor Brown includes all of the following:
Implement a six-month temporary moratorium on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine, and cannabis, while the federal investigation is underway and Oregon’s evaluation of the ban is conducted. This moratorium should include online sales in Oregon. These options are provided independent of and without consideration of legal authority or approval.
Increase access to FDA-approved tobacco-cessation methods (including nicotine-replacement therapy) and substance use disorder prevention services through:
- Enhanced access to nicotine-replacement therapy in pharmacies, including easier reimbursement regardless of insurance coverage.
- Increased access to training and billing reference materials for health care providers and pharmacists to improve their ability to counsel and support patients in their quit attempts and receive reimbursement.
- Providing eight weeks of free nicotine-replacement therapy, without barriers, to all individuals who access the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line.
- Facilitating access to cessation services in the community where individuals are already accessing services, including in school-based health centers.
Implement a statewide prevention campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping and combustible products with a link to cessation services through:
- Retail establishment signs and messaging to reinforce the risks of vaping. Online communications, including through social media.
- A multimedia campaign.
Request that the Food and Drug Administration regulate vaping products and establish a moratorium on internet sales of tobacco and a moratorium on advertising of vaping products.
Continue to encourage all health care providers to report cases of vaping-associated acute lung injury to OHA so the agency has more complete data and understanding of the health impact of vaping.
Convene a workgroup of health experts and agency leads to provide further recommendations on short- and long-term policies and strategies as evidence and information continues to emerge on this evolving crisis.