Up in Smoke: Gov. Baker announces four-month ban on vape products

The ban includes all nicotine and marijuana vaping products

Lindsay+Fox

Lindsay Fox

By Matt Berg, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a four-month ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts, effectively immediately, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The ban comes amidst multiple deaths nationwide linked to vaping this year, and Baker categorized the issue as a public health emergency. The ban covers all flavored and non-flavored vaping products, including both nicotine and marijuana products, in retail stores and online.

“We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses,” Baker said.

Massachusetts is the first state in the country to implement a ban on all vaping products. Other states, including Michigan and New York, have called for bans on flavored e-cigarettes only. More than 500 cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported nationwide, according to the State House News Service.

On the University of Massachusetts campus, not all students are happy with the ban.

“Most of the deaths can be attributed to getting back market and illegal products rather than the legal, over-the-counter ones and legal drugs you’ll find in states like Massachusetts and California,” said Nick Meredith, a senior finance major.

Rather than a public health issue, Meredith believes that the ban is a political move.

“I think it’s a political ploy because that’s something that Republicans feel like they can latch onto,” he said. “It’s going to very, very much demonize them in the upcoming election. I think that’s one of the worst decisions they’ve made.”

Gov. Baker is a member of the Republican party but has distanced himself from President Trump multiple times. Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced plans to federally ban flavored e-cigarettes.

Sarah Dupont, a graduate student in community health, currently works as an assistant for the Tobacco-Free UMass Amherst Committee. While the University has been tobacco-free for six years, vaping and e-cigarettes have been on the rise over traditional tobacco products in recent years.

“They’re marketed as if it’s no big deal,” Dupont said. “When enough of your friends start doing something, it starts to seem okay … I’ve been waiting for people to want action on a policy level.”

It’s “sad,” she added, that it took deaths rather than an increase in use for people to care. However, other students still disagree Baker’s ban because they believe it won’t be effective.

“Personally, I don’t vape, so it doesn’t really affect me,” said Ofelia Ndrecka, a senior operations and information management major. “I don’t think it’s going to work because ultimately if people want to vape, they’re going to get it somehow, either on the black market or they’ll go to New Hampshire or some other state. It’s just not going to work.”

Rather than ban vaping products, she said, the government should ban cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths annually in the United States, or 1,300 deaths every day.

Kathrine Esten contributed to this article.

Matt Berg can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mattberg33.