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Gov. Inslee calls for statewide ban of flavored vaping products in Washington

There are currently seven cases of lung illnesses associated with vaping in Washington state, with the most recent case reported in Pierce County.

SEATTLE — Washington state Governor Jay Inslee is directing the state's Board of Health to enact an emergency ban all flavored vaping products. 

The request came Friday morning as Gov. Inslee announced a new executive order related to vaping. The order also asks the state's Liquor and Cannabis Board to ban any ingredients that are found to be the cause of reported lung illnesses related to vaping in the state and across the country. 

The ban would include THC liquids. 

Additionally, Gov. Inslee is asking for draft legislation that would, if approved, permanently ban all flavored vaping products, force companies to list ingredients on their vaping products, and more. 

The Board of Health will meet on Oct. 9. 

Gov. Inslee said he "wanted to go further" with the executive order, but based it on the current law. 

During his announcement, Inslee argued that flavored vaping products are attractive to children, saying flavors such as bubble gum and cinnamon exist for "one reason and one reason only - make it more appealing to young children." 

Margo Pierini owns Olympia's South Sound Vapor Lounge, she said banning the sale of flavored juices would put her out of business. 

"These flavors are what are keeping adults from going back to combustible cigarettes," said Pierini. "Out of about 4,000 customers, we have two who vape unflavored juice by choice."

Ashley Rosie said vaping a strawberry-watermelon juice for the past three years helped her quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Rosie claimed unflavored vaping liquids, "taste like dirt." 

"I don't want to go back," said Rosie, "I don't want to." 

There are currently seven cases of lung illnesses associated with vaping in Washington state, with the most recent case reported in Pierce County. 

Across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 805 confirmed and probable cases have been reported. The number of deaths connected to the vaping related lung illness has risen to 13.

Earlier this week, Washington Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, called it an "emergency." 

“We know there are toxic substances in these products, and they are mostly associated with flavors, and we need to ban them,” said Pollet.

RELATED: US vaping illness count jumps to 805, deaths rise to 13

Gov. Inslee's announcement comes on the heels of other states declaring public health emergencies or outright bans on certain vaping products. 

The governor of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state, apparently the first action of its kind in the nation.

New York and Michigan both banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes last week, which prompted the American Vaping Association to push back, claiming that banning flavors "could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes.”

RELATED: US official expects 'hundreds more' cases of vaping illness

In Washington state, a Tacoma man filed a lawsuit this month against several vape pod manufacturers, claiming that defects in the products caused injuries to his lungs. 

Charles Wilcoxen spent three days in the hospital and was told by doctors that he suffered from "lipoid pneumonia" caused by vaping, the suit claimed.  

The Washington State Department of Health said it's "closely monitoring the ongoing investigation," which is headed by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration. 

"If you continue to use vaping devices, you should monitor yourself for symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, chest pain) and promptly seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health," said state health officials. 

Gov. Inslee was joined Friday by John Wiesman, secretary of the Washington State Department of Health, Rick Garza, director of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, legislators and other state and local leaders.

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