The Governor of Washington announced Friday, Sept. 27 that he plans to invoke emergency powers to ban all flavored vaping products at the Oct. 9 Washington State Board of Health meeting. Inslee is pushing for the ban for two reasons, the first one being that he believes these products are marketed to hook children on nicotine, saying, “This is an issue both about a dangerous product, and a problem with lifetime nicotine addiction that an industry is trying to hook our children on for life.”
The second motivation is the slew of mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses that have been making headlines recently, including seven cases in Washington, with 380 cases resulting in 13 deaths nationwide. Washington is the seventh state to use the media frenzy surrounding these vaping related illnesses to push through new regulations on vaping products. President Trump has also said that he plans to issue a federal ban on all flavored vaping products.
The vaping illness has been a scary thing, with the exact cause being unknown and the only connection that has been established between the victims is that they vaped shortly before falling ill. Early symptoms of the illness include chest pain, chronic coughing, and shortness of breath, and as things worsen many cases develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever and weight loss. Some even develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome, a sometimes-fatal condition which causes fluid to build up in the lungs and block oxygen intake.
Although no culprit has been positively identified, authorities are trying to pinpoint the ingredient that is causing the issue. The thought is that certain solvents used to extract THC, some preservatives often found in E-juice, or a vitamin E additive that is sometimes used may be partially to blame.
According to Dr. Osita Onugha, director of thoracic surgery research at the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California, it is tough to tell because each person’s lungs are so unique. “There are too many variables in how much we vape and what we vape for medical professionals to pinpoint precisely what’s causing people’s lungs to malfunction,” Onugha says. Different individuals could vape the same E-juice, but “one person might not get symptoms; the other might end up in the ICU on the ventilator. Each person’s body can react differently to irritants, which can really cause massive inflammation.”
Inslee has also asked that legislation be developed which will require vapor products to disclose their ingredients on their packaging and to increase spending on anti-vape campaigns directed at teenagers.