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Eva Timoney / Gavel Media

Massachusetts Temporary Vaping Ban Raises Controversy

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued a four-month ban on the sale of vapes and vaping products last Tuesday. The ban came in direct response to the recent propulsion of vaping in America into the national spotlight, following the deaths of at least 12 people across the country due to vaping.

The ban, which lasts until Jan. 25, 2020, will serve as a period during which medical professionals can work with relevant authorities to determine the exact cause of people’s sickness and regulate it appropriately.

“The use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products is exploding and we are seeing reports of serious lung illnesses, particularly in our young people,” Baker said in a press release. “The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents.”

The ban is much farther-reaching than others of its kind, reflecting a heightened concern felt across the nation as more and more people succumb to vaping-related illnesses. Other states, such as New York and Michigan, banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes; Massachusetts banned all vaping products, including both flavored and unflavored varieties of vapes.

While many in the nation support Gov. Baker’s decision and those of other states that are restricting vaping products, some are not so keen. Vape shop owners, for instance, realize that this ban is likely to put them out of business. In an interview with The Boston Globe, Brennan’s Smoke Shop COO Geoffrey Yalenezian claimed that “'Baker’s] stance is I don’t really care about small businesses in Massachusetts.”

Another concern with the ban is that it will cause more people to turn to dangerous black market cartridges, as legal access to regulated and verified companies is severely limited.

In an article for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Michelle Minton remarked, “[W]hat few of these reports have pointed out is that it seems most—if not all—of the hospitalizations were related, not to e-cigarettes, but illicit ‘street vapes.’ If e-cigarettes are banned or restricted, we can expect to see more stories like this as people increasingly turn to the black market.”

Boston College students are similarly divided. Zoe Whalen, MCAS ‘23, explained that the ban is “a really beneficial idea for teenagers and people who started using e-cigs just for the sake of being trendy.” 

Julia Dowling, MCAS ‘23, disagreed, saying that the ban is “contradictory."

"[Baker] bans vaping because of a couple of incidents, but smoking has been around for years and kills thousands of people every year," Dowling said.

This sentiment reflects a growing sense of discontentment among the youth of America on this issue, who believe that this is not an area on which America’s policymakers should be placing all of their attention.

Over the next four months, Baker will work closely with medical professionals and other lawmakers in an attempt to address the rising epidemic of lung disease in America.

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