Vape bans update: State by State
The summer of 2019 will perhaps go down in history as a significant milestone in the War on Vaping. With news of a “vaping-related” lung disorder appearing in national headlines across the country, the American public began wrongly believing that electronic cigarettes are even more dangerous than combustible tobacco. Without conducting proper investigation into the cause of the anti-vaping hysteria sweeping the nation, several state governors began implementing executive orders to ban all flavored products.
The news isn’t all bad, though. Several governors admitted openly that they lacked the legislative authority to take such a divisive action. In one instance, an appellate court temporarily blocked a statewide vaping ban just hours before it was to be officially enacted. And even President Trump seems to be waffling on his initial decision to implement a federal ban nationwide.
Meanwhile, vaping advocates have been pushing the mainstream media to ask tougher questions about the real public health threat facing America- the vaping of THC-enhanced products often illegally manufactured and sold by Black Market retailers. Everyday vapers are now more engaged than ever and are actively taking to Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media to blast anti-vaping activists for their lies and disinformation campaigns.
Still, with all the headlines and news reports surfacing in the press, it’s easy for vapers to become confused. In which states are flavored nicotine-based vapor products currently banned? Here’s a brief update of where American stands today, state by state.
On September 3, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer became the first to announce a statewide flavor ban by signing an executive order. The ban can only last for six months, and Whitmer can only renew the order once thereafter.
The ban went into effect last week, and many local vape shops are temporarily closing their doors pending the outcome of two lawsuits – one state and one federal. Hopes are high, especially since a recent ruling in a New York appellate court temporarily sided with the vaping community on Friday.
In mid-September, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo followed Whitmer’s lead and instituted a statewide ban of his own. In a lawsuit filed by Perfection Vapes, Benevolent E-Liquids, and the national advocacy group The Vapor Technology Organization, a panel of judges on the New York State Appellate Court issued a temporary restraining order on the governor’s executive order.
Related Article: In surprise decision, judge blocks New York vaping ban…for now
The judges’ ruling means that the state of New York is “temporarily enjoined and prevented from enforcing” Cuomo’s vape ban until the court receives additional information. The final ruling will likely occur on October 18 where a motion for a preliminary injunction will be decided.
California Governor Gavin Newsom would have loved to implement an executive order banishing the sales of flavored vaping products, but he stated last month that he doesn’t believe he has the legal authority. He’s instead announced the rollout of a new public awareness campaign and promised to encourage law enforcement agencies to conduct better policing of existing statues and regulations.
This perceived failure on Newsom’s part is leading nearly fifty local and regional jurisdictions in California to implement flavor bans of their own. The city of San Francisco – and home of JUUL Labs corporate headquarters – was the first city to announce a ban on flavored vapor products as far back as June 2019. Los Angeles Country voted unanimously on Tuesday to vape flavored vapes and tobacco products.
Failed presidential candidate and current Washington State Governor Jay Inslee couldn’t resist the temptation to make national headlines. In late September, Inslee issued an executive order that directs the State Health Department to take several bureaucratic actions, one of which is to demand the agency to adopt “emergency rules” regarding flavored vapes.
To be fair, his directives include THC-enhanced products, as well. The final decision to enact a statewide flavor ban from the State Department of Health could be announced as early as tomorrow, October 9.
What’s happening in Oregon is truly diabolical. Despite being the only state in the union – so far- to have a documented death directly attributed to the vaping of legal cannabis products obtained from a state-regulated marijuana dispensary, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order banning both THC-enhanced and nicotine-based vapor products.
In the last week, both the CDC and the FDA have acknowledged openly that contraband THC products are most likely to blame for the mysterious lung injuries plaguing the nation. Zero medical diagnoses have been attributed to the vaping of conventional, FDA-regulated nicotine products. Yet, Governor Brown chose to use her emergency rule-making authority under the Oregon Health Authority in coordination with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to impose the temporary six-month ban on flavored vapes.
Ohio and New Jersey
The governors of both Ohio and New Jersey also feel that they lack the legal authority to ban vapor products via an executive order. However, they are also actively calling for their state legislatures to enact prohibition legislation that could potentially be even more restrictive.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has stated, “Without question I would take more forceful executive action today—if I had the authority. That leaves the state vape industry association in position to fight any proposed ban in the legislature, which is far better than trying to overturn an ‘emergency’ ban.” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine supports a similar bill already making its way through the Ohio state congress.
Things are looking good in Utah, at least for the time being. In the past few weeks, the State Department of Heath passed an emergency rule requiring all tobacco retailers to post warnings about THC-enhance products. The rule also restricts sales of flavored nicotine and cannabis-based vapes to only tobacco stores, which means that convenience stores and gas stations are now exempt – theoretically.
However, the State Health Department temporarily curtailed the implementation of the rule until October 21, apparently because the organization is seeking further information. In light of the fact that the FDA and the CDC have both issued public statements attributing the lung injuries to the vaping of THC-enhance cannabis, the Department of Health may decide to modify to the emergency rule to focus more on marijuana vaping than convention nicotine-based e-liquids.
On September 24, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency which resulted in a four-month vaping ban statewide. Unlike other state governor’s allowing a short window of time before the ban would be fully operational, Baker’s executive action went into full effect immediately. It is slated to end of January 25, 2020.
The ban was met with significant backlash among state and local vape shops, which resulted in the filing of a federal lawsuit. Last week, the judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order unlike the New York Appellate Court, but a new hearing is scheduled for October 15 where arguments can be heard from the Massachusetts vaping community. Sadly, news is now breaking that the first THC-related death has just occurred in Massachusetts, which may or may not affect the judge’s decision in the upcoming court hearing.
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