State health officials have told Gov. Kate Brown that banning vape sales for half a year could help stem the vaping-related illness crisis that has killed two Oregonians and sickened at least two.
The Oregon Health Authority on Friday submitted six policy options to the governor, aimed at preventing deaths and injuries linked to vaping as the state and federal investigators look to identify the causes of recent cases.
The options include:
- 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.
- Implement a statewide prevention campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping and combustible products with a link to cessation services.
- 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.
Brown demanded a list of options from the agency on Thursday after it issued a public health warning to stop vaping immediately. The urgent warning came on the heels of a second confirmed vaping-related death in the state.
“People should stop vaping immediately,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, state health officer. “If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit.”
He added: “If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.”
OHA officials say the most recent death was an individual who had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping cannabis products. Nationally, there have been more than 800 cases, primarily among youths and young adults, in 46 states and one U.S. territory. A total of 12 additional deaths, including Oregon’s first fatality, have been reported in 10 states.
Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain. CDC and the FDA have not identified a cause, but all cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping.
OHA investigators and local public health authorities continue to urge clinicians to be on alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among patients and report any cases.
Before the new illness reports, OHA was already concerned about the health risks of vaping products. A recent report by the agency details the health risks for the products including nicotine addiction, exposure to toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and increases in blood pressure.
If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking or vaping, free help is available from the following resources:
- 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669), http://www.quitnow.net/Oregon
- Español: 855-DEJELO-YA (855-335356-92), https://www.quitnow.net/oregonsp/
- http://www.thisisquitting.com/ (youth quit resource for vaping)
Those who want help quitting cannabis or other substance use can call 1-800-662-HELP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.