Saying her “first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” Gov. Kate Brown Friday issued a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products in the state.
“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,” Brown said in a statement.
Two people have died in Oregon and more than a thousand vaping-related lung injury cases have been reported nationwide.
Brown said the order calls for a 180-day ban on all flavored vaping products under the emergency rulemaking authority of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The order also directs state agencies to develop legislative proposals for long-term solutions for consideration by the Legislature.
“I want to be clear though: the safest option for Oregonians right now is to not use vaping products of any kind. Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape,” 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.”
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.
Local pulmonologist Dr. Ryan Nelson says those who choose to continue vaping should watch for symptoms like shortness of breath or a dry cough that doesn’t go away.
“Just like not everybody gets emphysema or lung cancer from smoking, not everybody who uses vaping products is going to have these effects,” Nelson said. “But we just don’t have the tools to predict who could potentially have a life-threatening complication from the use of vaping products. At this point, I would have to say that all products are likely unsafe until we have further studies.”
Bend State Rep. Cheri Helt, who last week announced she would introduce legislation in the next session to ban the sale of all vaping products, applauded Brown’s order.
“Protecting young Oregonians from the dangers of flavored vaping products is the right decision,” Helt said in a statement. “I encourage the Oregon Health Authority to go further to understand and ensure the safety of all vaping products. Next year, I’ll seek bipartisan legislation to protect the lives and health of Oregonians who use vaping products, including bans if necessary.”
The state’s health care providers issued a joint statement saying they strongly agreed with the order.
“We have known for some time that vaping products – particularly those that are flavored – threaten to increase the number of youth addicted to nicotine. Given the increasing vaping-related illnesses and deaths over the last several months, urgent action is critical,” the statement said.
The American Lung Association issued a statement Friday:
“The American Lung Association applauds Governor Brown for taking this action to protect the health of Oregonians,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Oregon. “While we strongly support this step, to adequately address the youth e-cigarette epidemic, we know more must be done to prevent youth from beginning to vape in the first place. Youth are attracted to flavored e-cigarettes, and the Lung Association encourages federal and state governments to remove all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes and flavored cigars from the marketplace to prevent a lifetime of addiction and tobacco-related death and disease.”
Brown also called on the federal government to act to address vaping-related illness.
“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.”
The best-available evidence from state and federal public health experts indicates that certain ingredients and compounds contained in flavored vaping products and additives have been found in cases of vaping-related lung injury and death.
In addition to the temporary ban, the 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