Yesterday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced he was banning all vaping products for four months.
“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,” Baker said.
Gov. Baker’s decision to ban the sale of all e-cigarettes is a disaster for public health. Every credible scientific investigation has found vaping nicotine to be dramatically safer than smoking. E-cigarettes are also the most effective tool a person can use to help them switch away from smoking.
Unfortunately, Gov. Baker’s ban will also contribute to the already widespread misunderstanding that these vaping products are just as or more dangerous than combustible cigarettes.
There is undoubtedly a recent public health problem of people getting sick— and sometimes dying —from vaping illicit and adulterated marijuana and THC products. But no legal nicotine e-cigarette has been found to be associated with any of the pulmonary problems we’ve seen over the past few months. One shouldn’t tackle the issues of the illegal marijuana black market by creating an illicit market for e-cigarettes. But the prohibition of e-cigarettes is likely to spark both a black market for these products and lead many former smokers who have switched to vaping products back to traditional cigarettes.
More than 9,000 people die as a result of smoking in Massachusetts every year. Banning e-cigarettes, a safer alternative to smoking, while cigarettes are kept on the shelves is bad for public health and nothing less than a gift Big Tobacco.