Watermelon, mango, mint — as well as strawberry milk and strawberry lemonade — are a few of the fruit and candy flavors that were available to vapers last week. No more.
The state Board of Health last week unanimously put Gov. Jay Inslee's executive order in place that bans flavored vaping products for the next four months. The ban will apply to flavored products containing nicotine as well as the flavored products with the cannabis extract THC.
Earlier, hundreds of vaping supporters spoke against the order at a public meeting in Seattle, asserting the ban will drive people to black market products or back to smoking tobacco.
Perhaps. But those folks are missing the point of the temporary ban. Vaping is causing serious lung damage to users — more than 1,000 cases across the nation — and 18 people have died. The numbers are escalating at a dramatic rate, and the exact causes remain unknown.
Since vaping is a relatively new way to take in nicotine, more time is needed to determine why cases of lung disease have exploded.
The temporary ban requires sellers of non-flavored vapor products to post warning signs about the risk of vaping-related lung illnesses.
"We support better regulation of vaping products, particularly with respect to requiring ingredient listings and honest communication to patrons about the risks of vaping-related lung illness," Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District, told The (Everett) Herald newspaper. "We are concerned about the marketing strategies being used ... that appear to be specifically recruiting youth and young adults." It is our hope that this emergency rule will help move toward reversing the troubling increase in youth usage that we have been seeing."
These are genuine concerns and will likely be the focus of the discussion in January when the state Legislature considers taking further action, including making the ban permanent.
About a half-dozen states have imposed a ban, and President Donald Trump is considering taking similar action.
Vaping was originally pitched as a way to wean smokers away from tobacco cigarettes to a product that is safer. Now, it's far from clear whether that is true.
The temporary ban approved by the Board of Health was needed. Vaping is a growing business, and serious oversight is needed before it gets so large that the damage will be irreversible.