The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all knee-jerk reaction e-cigarette bans so that we can work with our vaping and cannabis market experts to identify what is actually making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents without putting thousands of small business owners out of work, forcing thousands of ex-smokers to return to smoking, and creating a massive new or expanded black market for illicit THC and nicotine e-liquids.
Why is This a Public Health Emergency?
This is a public health emergency because starting today, ex-smokers in Massachusetts began a wholesale return back to smoking tobacco cigarettes as the stores carrying the electronic cigarettes which were keeping them away from smoking were boarded up and emptied of merchandise, causing tens of thousands of dollars of lost expenditures and putting hundreds of vape shops out of business.
I have already heard many stories of ex-smokers who today lit up their first cigarette in months or years, thanks to the governor and the Public Health Council's ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes. In addition, I have already heard many stories of medical marijuana patients who are now turning to dangerous, unregulated, black market THC vaping products because they are unable to switch to combustibles or edibles for medical reasons.
Furthermore, hundreds of smoking cessation clinics (i.e., vape shops) have boarded up their windows, eliminating in one fell swoop one of the most successful anti-smoking interventions in the state of Massachusetts.
Worst of all, with the elimination of nicotine-containing e-liquids, youth are going to begin switching over to illicit THC vaping carts which are associated with most of the cases of severe respiratory failure that are sweeping the country.
In addition, since public health officials have told us that youth vapers are at high risk of transitioning to smoking (e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, they say), it is a public health disaster for real cigarettes to remain on the shelves of convenience stores, gas stations, and pharmacies while electronic cigarettes are nowhere to be found.
Reason for Temporary Ban
I am issuing a temporary ban on further e-cigarette bans for 4 months so that it provides enough time to educate policy makers about what we already know regarding the probable causes of the respiratory disease outbreak, information that the CDC has been hiding from health officials and the public for several weeks.
Since the agency readily admits that no fewer than 80% of the cases are associated with the use of black market THC vape carts and in states that have tested the THC vape carts that have been recovered, between 90% and 100% of those carts were "contaminated" with vitamin E acetate oil, there is no justification for shutting down stores selling nicotine-containing e-liquids whose only ingredients are propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, and flavorings, all of which have been around for years and not caused any problems. It will take 4 months to educate public officials about the differences between a water-based e-liquid and an oil-based e-liquid and the fact that oil-based e-liquids are the ones that are causing lipoid pneumonia.
The ban will be rescinded in four months, after which time I reserve the right to use a formal rule-making process to permanently remove e-cigarette bans from the marketplace of stupid policy proposals should the facts of the situation not sink in.
Criminal Proceedings Against Illicit Drug Dealers
Unlike Governor Baker's emergency order, which leaves illicit drug dealers off the hook, my emergency order is going to go after the source of the products that are causing so many young people to suffer life-threatening respiratory illnesses. My order also includes an injunction so that vape shops can remain open to continue to save the lives of thousands of Massachusetts residents who are depending on e-cigarettes to remain smoke-free and much healthier than they were when they smoked tobacco cigarettes.
Legal cannabis dispensaries and medical marijuana providers will be allowed to continue to sell legal, regulated cannabis vaping products, but only after certifying that the products were manufactured safely and without any vitamin E acetate or non-cannabis oils.
As in Michigan, the penalty for violation of this emergency order will be $200 per ex-smoking vaper who is forced to go back to smoking or to turn to the black market and up to six months of jail time. Lawmakers will also be liable for four-months worth of revenues for each vape shop that shuts down in their state to any enacted e-cigarette or flavored e-cigarette bans.
Reaction from the National Lung Association
"In the absence of strong federal action especially by the FDA, states are being forced to make decisions to protect the health of children and adults from an electronic cigarette-ban-related public health emergency," said the National Lung Association National President and CEO. "The Rest of the Story's announcement reinforces the need for the FDA and CDC to confront the illicit production and distribution of oil-laden THC vape carts and bootleg or counterfeit "nicotine" cartridges that are being sold on the black market or through shady internet sites. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local departments of health continue to investigate the hundreds of cases of lung injury from black market vape cartridges, the National Lung Association once again urges all Americans to stop using cigarettes and to stop vaping marijuana unless it is purchased from a legal dispensary that has certified the absence of added oils, such as vitamin E acetate oil."
Disposition of Legislative Proposals and Bills Currently Under Consideration
Because this is a temporary ban, at this time politicians are not being asked to destroy their bills, however, the bills need to be taken off of the shelves immediately.
Original author: Michael Siegel