(Update: Adding to AP story, OLCC plans for next steps)
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s governor ordered a temporary ban Friday on the sale of flavored vaping products amid an outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 people nationwide — and killed two in Oregon.
Several other states, including Washington, New York, Michigan and Rhode Island, have also imposed temporary bans.
The illnesses first appeared in March, with symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the marijuana ingredient that causes a high, but some said they vaped only nicotine.
Gov. Kate Brown’s order imposes a 180-day ban on all flavored vaping products and on the sale of other sources or additives as they are identified in cases of vaping-related lung injuries or deaths.
“The safest option for Oregonians right now is to not use vaping products of any kind. Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape,” Brown said.
The Oregon Health Authority had asked Brown for a six-month ban on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine and cannabis. The agency also urged Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of the illnesses.
The Oregon Retailers of Cannabis Association said it was very grateful the governor did not implement a complete ban on cannabis vaping products, like Massachusetts did. The group told its members that technical questions and issues need to be worked out and that it will try to “ensure the government acts responsibly and makes evidenced-based decisions that do not needlessly harm the legal cannabis industry.”
Brown also called on state agencies to develop plans within 90 days for consumer warnings, product testing and disclosure of the ingredients of vaping products. Brown also directed state agencies to develop proposals for long-term solutions for consideration by the Legislature, which convenes early next year.
State Rep. Cheri Helt, a Republican from Bend, said she’ll seek bipartisan legislation to address the dangers of vaping, including bans if necessary.
In Oregon, eight cases have been reported, two of which resulted in death.
Brown said federal action “is long overdue to address this national public health crisis.”
President Donald Trump has said he plans to ban flavored vaping products nationally.
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News release from Gov. Kate Brown:
To address the growing public health threat of the vaping-related illness that has resulted in two deaths in Oregon and over 1,000 cases of lung injury nationwide, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday issued Executive Order 19-09, directing state agencies to enact a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, as well as other sources or additives as they are identified in cases of vaping-related lung injury or death.
“My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” Brown said. “By keeping potentially unsafe products off of store shelves and out of the hands of Oregon’s children and youth, we prevent exposing more people to potentially dangerous chemical compounds, and help lessen the chance of further tragedy for any other Oregon family.
“I want to be clear though: the safest option for Oregonians right now is to not use vaping products of any kind,” she added. “Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape. Encourage your friends and family members to stop vaping immediately. Talk to your children about the dangers of vaping. The risks are far too high.”
E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products used by Oregon’s youth, with 23 percent of Oregon 11th graders reporting using an e-cigarette in 2019, up from 13 percent in 2017.
Governor Brown also called on the federal government to act to address vaping-related illness. “This order will help protect Oregon households in the short term, but federal action is long overdue to address this national public health crisis,” said Gov. Brown. “It’s time for the FDA to regulate flavored vaping products and other additives for what they are: products that are addictive, dangerous, and targeted squarely at our youth.”
The best-available evidence from state and federal public health experts indicates that certain ingredients and compounds contained in flavored vaping products and additives have been found in cases of vaping-related lung injury and death, the governor said.
The order calls for a 180-day ban on all flavored vaping products under the emergency rulemaking authority of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The order also directs state agencies to develop legislative proposals for long-term solutions for consideration by the Legislature.
In addition to the temporary ban, the executive order calls for state agencies to develop plans within 90 days regarding:
Consumer warnings about the dangers of vaping
Ingredient disclosure for vaping products
Testing of vaping products to determine product safety
Improving health care provider reporting of vaping-related lung injuries to OHA
Increasing access to FDA-approved cessation services and methods
Establishing a statewide prevention and education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping products
Executive Order 19-09 also convenes a Vaping Public Health Workgroup to advise the Governor and state agencies, examine the evidence about the causes and effects of vaping-related lung injuries, and collect stakeholder feedback and input about the vaping public health crisis. Read more information about the Vaping Public Health Workgroup.
The workgroup’s membership will consist of public health experts, including health professionals in epidemiology, pulmonology, emergency medicine, and pediatrics; Oregon’s State Public Health Officer and Epidemiologist; representatives from the Governor’s office, the Oregon Legislature, OHA, the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture, and OLCC; as well as members from law enforcement, the Association of Oregon Counties, and public stakeholders, including from the cannabis industry and the vaping business community. As more information about the causes of vaping-related injury and death emerges, the workgroup will make policy recommendations for lawmakers to consider and implement.
For further background, see Governor Brown’s September 26 statement on vaping-related lung injuries and fatalities and the f ull text of OHA’s public health warning about vaping products.
Rep. Cheri Helt Statement on Governor’s Decision to Direct State Agencies to Ban Flavored Vaping Products
Bend, Ore. –Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend) released the following statement in response to Governor Kate Brown’s decision to direct state agencies to temporarily ban flavored vaping products and other sources or additives identified in cases of vaping related illness or death.
“Protecting young Oregonians from the dangers of flavored vaping products is the right decision. I encourage the Oregon Health Authority to go further to understand and ensure the safety of all vaping products. Next year, I’ll seek bipartisan legislation to protect the lives and health of Oregonians who use vaping products, including bans if necessary.”
Last week, Helt urged Gov. Kate Brown to immediately issue a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products to allow public health experts time to better understand the causes of life-threatening, vaping-related illnesses occurring in Oregon and across the nation. Oregon now follows several states that have taken legislative and executive actions to limit the retail and on-line sales of vaping related products.
OLCC Action on Governor Brown’s Vaping Executive Order
Commission Will Meet to Pass Emergency Temporary Rules
Portland, OR — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) will meet next week to act on the Executive Order on the Vaping Public Health Crisis issued today by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. The Governor’s order directs the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the OLCC to enact a temporary ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, as well as other sources or additives that public health investigators link to the vaping-related illness.
Governor Brown emphasized protecting Oregonians’ health as the primary focus of her action, by removing possibly unsafe products from the marketplace, discouraging vaping by children and youth, and reducing human exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals.
Brown further encouraged Oregonians to stop using vaping products until more is known about the cause of the respiratory illness. The Governor also called on the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to step in to regulate flavored vaping products and additives.
The order directs both agencies to enact a 180-day ban on all flavored vaping products and to develop plans within 90 days to address consumer warnings about the dangers of vaping, vaping product ingredient disclosure, product safety tests of vaping equipment, improved health care provider reporting of vaping lung injuries to OHA, and creating a statewide prevention and education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping products.
The Governor is also asking the agencies to develop proposals for long-term solutions to present to the Legislature during the 2020 legislative session. Governor Brown will include the OLCC in a Vaping Public Health Workgroup tasked with studying the vaping illness crisis and making recommendations to the legislature.
“We will act quickly on the Governor’s directive to address this growing public health crisis,” said Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director. “The OLCC will utilize the real-time findings of public health officials here in Oregon and across the country as they continue their investigation into the cause of the vaping respiratory illness outbreak. We’ll let scientists guide us as we contemplate taking additional actions with a measured approach.”
The OLCC Commission will act on temporary rules proposing to ban licensed marijuana retailers from selling any cannabinoid (marijuana and hemp) products containing any flavor, including non-marijuana terpenes. In this interpretation the OLCC does not include terpenes derived from marijuana as a “flavor.” The temporary rule will also prohibit licensed processors from manufacturing or distributing those same products.
After the Commission acts the OLCC will provide further guidance to licensees about taking inventory of flavored or non-marijuana terpene-containing products, removing them from retail store shelves and setting those items aside. The OLCC will make compliance checks at licensed processors and retailers to make sure affected product is not being offered for sale.
Joint news release from the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Nurses Association and Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems:
Doctors, Nurses, and Hospitals Support Governor Brown’s Ban on Flavored Vaping Products
Health care providers united on temporary ban on flavored vaping products and advocate for raising the price of tobacco and e-cigarettes
Lake Oswego, Ore. – October 4, 2019 – Doctors, nurses, and hospitals today expressed strong support for Governor Kate Brown’s call for a temporary ban on flavored e-cigarette products in Oregon. Liquid flavors such as bubble gum, fruit, and mint appeal to kids, and limiting access is an important step in preventing youth use and stopping a possible lifelong addiction. Health care provider organizations across the state are united on the temporary ban, and continue to advocate for raising the price of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes as the next important step to deter tobacco and nicotine use among Oregonians of all ages.
Providers released the following joint statement:
“We strongly support the Governor’s proposed regulatory, legislative and educational actions to address the current health crisis around vaping, including an emergency ban on flavored vaping products. We have known for some time that vaping products – particularly those that are flavored – threaten to increase the number of youth addicted to nicotine. Given the increasing vaping-related illnesses and deaths over the last several months, urgent action is critical.”
“We also know that raising the price of tobacco is the most effective way to get people to quit smoking and to discourage new tobacco users. When nicotine products cost more money, fewer people use them. This public health crisis has been decades in the making, and includes both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. That’s why we continue to advocate for raising the price of tobacco products and e-cigarettes. These actions are vital for preventing youth use and reducing overall rates for all types of tobacco use.”
The Oregon Medical Association (OMA) is the state’s largest professional organization engaging in advocacy, policy development, community-building, and networking opportunities for Oregon’s physicians, physician assistants, medical students, and physician assistant students. In the state capitol of Salem and in Washington, DC, the OMA’s members speak with one voice as they advocate for policies that improve access to quality patient care and reduce administrative burdens on medical professionals. Additional information is available at theOMA.org.
The Oregon Nurses Association is Oregon’s oldest and largest professional association and union for nurses in Oregon. ONA represents over 15,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses who work in settings across Oregon, from large acute care hospitals to small clinics and in local public health.
Founded in 1934, the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems is a statewide, nonprofit trade association that works closely with local and national government leaders, business and citizen coalitions, and other professional health care organizations to enhance and promote community health, and to continue improving Oregon’s innovative health care community.
News release from American Lung Association:
American Lung Association Applauds Oregon Gov. Brown’s Action to Address E-Cigarette Epidemic, Encourages Further Steps
PORTLAND (October 4, 2019) – Oregon Governor Kate Brown today took executive action to protect Oregon residents from the growing youth vaping epidemic by announcing a temporary prohibition of the sale of flavored vaping products, convening a Vaping Public Health Workgroup, and taking other actions to curtail this emerging epidemic. This is a positive step in combating the continued reports of severe lung illnesses and deaths linked to e-cigarette use.
“The American Lung Association applauds Governor Brown for taking this action to protect the health of Oregonians,” said Carrie Nyssen, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Oregon. “While we strongly support this step, to adequately address the youth e-cigarette epidemic, we know more must be done to prevent youth from beginning to vape in the first place. Youth are attracted to flavored e-cigarettes, and the Lung Association encourages federal and state governments to remove all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes and flavored cigars from the marketplace to prevent a lifetime of addiction and tobacco-related death and disease.”
The youth e-cigarette epidemic is nothing short of a public health emergency that must be urgently confronted. Federal officials have announced that e-cigarette use among youth has increased to 27.5 percent, an increase of 32 percent since 2018. Of the youth who use e-cigarettes, 63.9 percent are using mint or menthol e-cigarettes. Research shows that 97 percent of current youth e-cigarette users used a flavored product in the past month, and 70 percent cite flavors as a key reason for their use.
KTVZ and AP 2019