Washington state health board bans flavored vaping products

Nicholas Tucker, News Editor

An emergency ban on the sale of flavored vaping products has been approved by the Washington State Board of Health. This follows an executive order by Governor Jay Inslee, calling for a ban lasting 120 days before it will be up for renewal. 

The state’s actions are in response to multiple cases of severe lung illness, including 13 deaths, which have been attributed to the use of vape products. Controversy over the ban has been strong as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that most of the symptoms have been experienced by those using illegal THC juices and homemade vaping setups instead of legal and regulated vaping products. 

The CDC is still currently investigating what specific ingredients in both legal and illegal vape products have led to the cases of lung illness, but Gov. Inslee remains steadfast in his decision.

“This is an issue both about a dangerous product from a toxological standpoint, and a problem with lifetime nicotine addiction that an industry is trying to hook our children on for life,” Inslee said at the Sept. 27 announcement of his executive order.

Brendan Killeen, manager of the specialty vape shop Ruze 509’s Ellensburg location, has worked in the vaping retail industry for over four years. He and the two other employees of the shop will be losing their jobs, as will thousands across Washington state.

“We’ll be open until 11:59 [p.m.] when the ban goes into effect, trying to sell all the stuff we have left,” Killeen said. “It’s nice to finally know what’s happening. We’re all heartbroken here though, like the last few years of my life are gone.”

Whether the ban expires after 120 days or not is uncertain. Regardless, the emergency ban comes as a massive disruption to the vape industry, and a shock to its workers and consumers.