Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order immediately banning the sale of flavored vaping products—including both tobacco and cannabis vape pens—on Friday morning.
Brown's move comes on the heels of reports that a mysterious vaping-related lung illness had affected more than 1,000 people around the country and left 18 people dead—including two Oregonians. At least one of the Oregon deaths is thought to be linked to THC-infused vape products bought at legal cannabis dispensaries. The ban will last for 180 days, giving the state time to develop ways to test vape products for potential hazards, create warning labels, and a kick off a statewide education campaign about the dangers of vaping.
“My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” Brown said in a press release. "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."
Brown's executive order references both the recent vaping deaths, and the general trend of increased teen tobacco vape use, as reasons for the ban:
"Despite Oregon laws that ban the use of inhalant delivery systems to youth under 21 years of age, flavored nicotine vaping products and advertisements for those products have contributed to a significant increase in youth vaping—for example, among 11th graders in Oregon, use of e-cigarette products increased from 13 percent to 23 percent from 2017 to 2019."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the exact cause of the vape-related illness is still unknown. But the CDC is warning both adults and children to abstain from using any vaping products for the time being.
Oregon joins a growing list of municipalities across the country who've instated emergency bans on flavored vaping products, including Los Angeles County, Massachusetts, Washington state, Michigan, New York, and Rhode Island. Massachusetts has already seen two lawsuits from vape companies challenging the ban.
Oregon cannabis businesses will likely take a hit in profits from the ban, but at least one of them supports Brown's decision. Vape brand Select Oil, which is owned by local cannabis giant Cura, sent out a statement to reporters thanking Brown for "taking swift and thoughtful action for the health and safety of all Oregonians."