In the midst of what Governor Charlie Baker has called a public health crisis, all vaping products – whether used for marijuana-derived THC products or for nicotine – have been banned for four months, effective on September 24th in Massachusetts. The development has already resulted in a lawsuit against the state from vape shop owners and protests from those who say that vaping has helped them quit more harmful practices, such as smoking cigarettes.
The ban was initiated due to concern that has amplified following multiple deaths – at least seven nationwide as recently reported by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) – and hundreds of cases of a mysterious lung disease that has been attributed to the increasingly popular activity of vaping, which is the inhaling of a vaporized mist of substances that usually contains nicotine, marijuana’s psychoactive chemical THC or a combination of the two.
Massachusetts has vowed to study the phenomenon during the ban – which temporarily forbids the sale of all vaping products in the state – with the hopes of obtaining more answers about what is causing the health complications and how they can be prevented. The state has specifically cited a concern over the use of vaping products in younger generations, as there has been a well-documented rise in vaping use among children and teens nationwide.
What products are causing the health problems?
Perhaps the biggest question that remains unanswered in the vaping crisis is what products are causing the pulmonary issues that have resulted in deaths and hundreds of illnesses. Lab tests have confirmed that the majority of the illnesses have been caused by ingestion of harmful substances stemming from the use of illicit, black market vaping cartridges used in unregulated THC vaporizers.
This fact has led some vape shop owners – like the ones who have joined together to sue the state – to cry foul over the fact that their vape products are purely used for nicotine delivery and have all been approved by federal regulators. They argue that they are being unfairly and arbitrarily punished in a reactionary manner that will ultimately sink their businesses and cause undue financial harm to their employees – all without just reason as their products are not causing the illnesses.
Other have argued that banning legal vape products will simply turn people back to the black market – which obviously does not comply with the law regardless of the situation – or switch back to the much more readily harmful and available tobacco cigarettes. Protests have already occurred in Boston outside the State House with people arguing that the ban will actually cause more sicknesses and deaths as people will continue to purchase dangerous black market vape cartridges or smoke cigarettes, which are known to cause serious diseases.
It is unknown how the lawsuits will pan out and it is not known if the vaping ban will continue beyond its temporary, four-month status or if it will be ended prior to that date. All that is currently known is that debate will continue to rage about whether the ban is warranted, whether it is adversely harming small business owners and whether it is going to end up doing more harm than good. Continue reading