Metro, Politics, Featured Story

Vape Ban to Stand, Requires Changes

A Superior Court Judge ruled that the four-month vape ban in Massachusetts can stand, but it requires that the executive branch issue an emergency order by Oct. 28 and that a public hearing be held. If that is not done, then nicotine vape sales must be permitted to resume. The ruling does not affect black market products or vape products that contain THC.

It seems that the plaintiffs in the case did not consider the financial burden that would be placed on the businesses that sell only vape products to adults, wrote Douglas Wilkins, the justice in the case. The business owners were told of the ban at the same time as the public and weren’t given any formal opportunity to speak against it.

“If the executive branch avoids such input and safeguards it unwittingly creates an echo chamber in which government officials’ own viewpoints reinforce each other, potentially causing unnecessary harm and ill-informed decisions, despite the best of intentions,” Wilkins wrote in his decision. 

The order violates the three-month limit on emergency regulations, the judge wrote.

The judge decided, however, that the benefit for the public outweighed the harm caused by the ban. The decision cited the 1,479 lung injuries related to vaping and the 33 deaths in the United States as a determining factor in upholding the ban.

Governor Charlie Baker issued the ban in September, declaring a “public health emergency.” All stores were required to remove all vape products from their shelves the day after the ban was instituted. 

Business owners across the state were shocked as they learned about the ban. Some, like the owners of Vape Daddy’s in Newton, decided that they needed to close some of their stores as they wouldn’t be able to afford staying open without making sales for four months.

“It is me and my business partner’s livelihood,” said Stacy Poritzky, one of the owners of Vape Daddy’s, in an interview with The Heights shortly after the ban was announced. “So it’s really so wrong on so many levels.”

Vapor Technology Association, Devine Enterprise, Sun Vapors, and the Steam Co. filed the lawsuit against the governor on Oct. 1. 

Newton and Boston had proposed regulations for curbing youth vaping shortly before the governor announced the ban. The City of Newton proposed in August to limit e-cigarette sales to the two adult-only retailers in Newton starting in December. The proposal was largely in response to the Newton Fall 2018 Youth Risk Survey, which found that 15 percent of high schoolers in Newton use e-cigarettes.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09, had announced a plan to limit mint and menthol nicotine and tobacco products to adult-only retailers in Boston the week before the ban was announced.

Featured Image by Timmy Facciola / Heights Editor

October 22, 2019