Massachusetts Vaping Illness Update

The temporary, four-month ban imposed which prohibits the sale of all vaping products in Massachusetts has entered its second month despite multiple legal challenges from vape shop owners and the general public, and controversy around whether Governor Charlie Baker abused his authority as governor to implement the ban.

As the count of people who have suffered respiratory illnesses from vaping products continue to rise, the attorneys at the Cambridge personal injury firm of Altman & Altman LLP are ready to hear from you if you have reason to believe you or a loved one contracted a serious illness due to a vaping product.

These mysterious illnesses affect the lungs and total respiratory systems of the afflicted, and have been confirmed to have resulted in the deaths of at least two Massachusetts residents at this time. According to the Center for Disease Control, there have been 1,888 confirmed cases of EVALI – which is the abbreviation being used to described e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury – in 49 states (all except Alaska) and 37 total deaths across 24 states as of Oct. 29, 2019.

According to the CDC, a majority of the patients who have presented with this illness have a history of e-cigarette or vaping product use, and THC – the psychoactive chemical present in marijuana – has been in “most” of the samples tested by the FDA to date. Most patients have reported a history of using THC products as well.

However, the CDC also reports that THC products off the street or obtained from “informal sources” such as illicit dealers or friends and family members are linked to most of the cases and “play a major role in the outbreak.”

Response to the Massachusetts ban

For the reason above outlined by the CDC, certain vape shop owners and legal marijuana business advocates have criticized Governor Baker’s vape ban as being over-aggressive and overreactive, which is putting legitimate businesses at risk of financial ruin during the ban. After all, while it may only be a temporary, four-month ban, four months is an eternity in business time, especially if vaping products make up a significant portion of that business’s revenue.

A Massachusetts judge recently ruled that the Baker administration improperly went forward with the ban without any public hearings to assess the potential harm to businesses, which caused the administration to re-file the legislation for the ban. Despite the legal trouble, Governor Baker continues to stand by the ban and say that, until an exact root of the illnesses can be determined, it is a necessary step to preserve public health.

What to do if you’ve been affected

While the root cause of the illness remains undetermined, users of vaping products should exercise extreme caution if they choose to continue using vaporized tobacco or THC products. According to some news sources, although the majority of illnesses seem to have been caused by the use of unregulated, black market vaping cartridges, illnesses have also been caused by devices bought in legitimate, regulated shops as well.

The bottom line is that no vaping product can be claimed to be 100 percent safe, and the rapid onset of these lung diseases – which can be fatal – should provide enough pause to cease use of such devices until more is learned about the public health risks associated with them.

However, if you or a loved one has already contracted a lung-related illness – and you believe it to be caused by the use of a vaping device, regardless of where that device came from – you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP right away. With over 50 years of experience, we will give you the best chance at bringing a complaint against a vape shop or manufacturer that contributed to your illness.

Contact us online or call for a free consultation to go over the details of your case today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.

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