Two Oregon agencies weighed in Thursday on the growing health concerns around vaping and e-cigarettes in the wake of six deaths nationwide related to the practice, including one Oregon fatality.
The Oregon Health Authority announced its support for the Trump administration’s proposed ban on flavored vaping products.
“The science is clear,” OHA officials said. “Flavors are a key component of youth use and initiation of tobacco products, which is a major public health concern in Oregon.”
OHA said it previously submitted comments on two recent dockets, including one in 2018 titled “Regulation of flavors, including menthol, in tobacco products” and one last April called “Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products: Draft Guidance for Industry.”
OHA focused its concerns on underage consumers, pointing out data such as “21 percent of 11th graders reporting e-cigarette use in 2018,” with “kid-friendly names” and “candy-like packaging.”
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has also published a flyer asking retailers to post. Among the groups the OLCC says shouldn’t use e-cigarettes are “youth or young adults” and “women who are pregnant.” But the warning goes beyond those sensitive groups to intervene more broadly.
“Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products,” the warning said.
It also cautions a typical target group of the vaping industry - people who are trying to quit smoking. The OLCC suggests they should use e-cigarettes if it’s part of “evidence-based treatments” advised by a “doctor or other medical provider.”
The OLCC also continues to emphasize advice that has circulated from health officials, including the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to stay away from unregulated or modified products.
The OLCC flyer warns specifically against modifying e-cigarette products with any substances “that are not intended by the manufacturer.” It also tells customers “you should not buy these products off the street (for example, e-cigarette products with THC or other cannabinoids).”
OLCC director Steve Marks also sent a letter asking “processors and retailers to take a series of voluntary steps to review vaping devices and vaping cartridges containing additives that may be of public concern.”
Researchers continue to study possible causes of the vaping-related illnesses that have affected consumers across the country. Federal officials recently revised downward the number of people confirmed to have been sickened by vaping or e-cigarettes to 380.
State health officials note that they’re continuing to “work with CDC, FDA and local health departments to investigate each case.” But OHA noted that no particular “brands, vaping devices or liquids have been conclusively linked to the illnesses” so far.