PORTLAND, Ore. — One day after officials confirmed the second death of an Oregonian due to a vaping-related illness, the Oregon Health Authority issued a series policy options to Gov. Kate Brown on how to address the epidemic.
Health officials have reported five cases in Oregon connected with a vaping-related illness. They all had respiratory issues, including shortness of breath, after vaping cannabis products from a licensed retailer, officials said. The cause of the illnesses has not been identified.
Nationally, there have been more than 800 cases, primarily among youths and young adults, in 46 states.
Following the second death in Oregon on Thursday, Gov. Brown asked health officials for a policy recommendations that could prevent future deaths and illnesses. Among the options OHA sent to Gov. Brown on Friday was a six-month ban on the sale of vaping products.
If Gov. Brown opts for the ban, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. The governor of Massachusetts previously ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state.
OHA sent the following policy options to Gov. Brown:
- Implement a six-month temporary moratorium on sale and display of all vaping products, including tobacco, nicotine, and cannabis, while the federal investigation is underway and Oregon’s evaluation of the ban is conducted. This moratorium should include online sales in Oregon. These options are provided independent of and without consideration of legal authority or approval.
- Increase access to FDA-approved tobacco-cessation methods (including nicotine-replacement therapy) and substance use disorder prevention services through:
- Enhanced access to nicotine-replacement therapy in pharmacies, including easier reimbursement regardless of insurance coverage.
- Increased access to training and billing reference materials for health care providers and pharmacists to improve their ability to counsel and support patients in their quit attempts and receive reimbursement.
- Providing eight weeks of free nicotine-replacement therapy, without barriers, to all individuals who access the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line.
- Facilitating access to cessation services in the community where individuals are already accessing services, including in school-based health centers.
- Implement a statewide prevention campaign aimed at discouraging the use of vaping and combustible products with a link to cessation services through:
- Retail establishment signs and messaging to reinforce the risks of vaping.
- Online communications, including through social media.
- A multimedia campaign.
- Request that the Food and Drug Administration regulate vaping products and establish a moratorium on internet sales of tobacco and a moratorium on advertising of vaping products.
- Continue to encourage all health care providers to report cases of vaping-associated acute lung injury to OHA so the agency has more complete data and understanding of the health impact of vaping.
- Convene a workgroup of health experts and agency leads to provide further recommendations on short- and long-term policies and strategies as evidence and information continues to emerge on this evolving crisis.
Gov. Brown's press secretary, Charles Boyle, sent KGW the following statement
"The Department of Justice is reviewing the options that have been laid out by OHA, and in the coming weeks, our office will be working closely with DOJ, OHA, and other relevant state agencies to determine a path forward under Oregon law that protects the public health of all Oregonians when it comes to vaping products. In the meantime, Governor Brown urges all Oregonians to heed the public health warning issued by OHA yesterday and to cease the use of vaping products. "
If you or someone you know smokes or vapes, we urge you to quit now. Free help is available from the following resources:
Those who want assistance quitting vaping can call 1-800-662-HELP.
Switching to cigarettes or other combustible products is not a safer option.