We’ve all seen the news. Headline after headline…
“Outbreak of Lung Disease Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping” says the CDC.
“Sixth Person Dies of Severe Lung Illness, CDC Says to Stop Vaping as They Investigate 450 Cases” says People.com
“Cases of Vaping-Related Lung Illness Surge, Health Officials Say” says the New York Times.
“There Are Now Nearly 200 Cases of Severe Lung Illnesses Tied to Vaping” says LiveScience.com.
“Trump Administration Plans to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes” says the New York Times.
The truth is, yes, the illnesses are tied to vaping. But what the headlines have been leaving out or are only including at the very bottom of their articles is that the lung illnesses are tied to THC vapes containing Vitamin E. acetate, which was thought to be a “revolutionary” thickening agent in the recreational cannabis industry (until the outbreak, of course). And, of course, the black market caught wind of the new “revolutionary” thickening agent, and now here we are.
Even after this discovery, health organizations and government officials continued telling the public to avoid using electronic cigarettes. In the meantime, a leading cannabis extractor located in Oregon admitted the company started using Vitamin E acetate as a thickening agent in a line of THC vapes after a “revolutionary” discovery, which was apparently approved by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).
After news of Vitamin E acetate being the suspected culprit for what has been determined as lipoid pneumonia, a condition that occurs when fat particles enter the lungs, the company immediately discontinued all THC vaping products containing Vitamin E, while others in the industry simply went dark, letting e-cigarettes take the fall. And now e-cig flavor bans are coming from all directions.
A Growing List of Flavored Vape Bans Across the U.S.
In the wake of the lung illness outbreak, flavor bans are popping up all over the country. At White Cloud, we do agree that the vaping industry is no doubt in need of regulations to not only protect public health, but the industry itself. And for reasons like this.
But, while health organizations and local governments might think they’re winning “the war” against vaping and the teen vaping “epidemic” with flavor bans, those opposed to such bans, including Michael Siegel, say what these bans will inevitably do is push vapers back to cigarettes or create an even bigger, unregulated, dangerous black market. Imagine the headlines once uneducated vapers who’ve lost legal access to vapor products start trying to create their own flavored e-liquids using potentially harmful ingredients (like Vitamin E).
Regardless of the findings regarding the recent lung illness outbreak and the potential consequences of enforcing harsh regulations on vapor products, state and local governments are still moving forward with flavor bans.
Michigan’s Flavored Vape Ban is in Effect as of Oct. 2, 2019
On September 4, 2019, Michigan became the first state to move forward with a ban on flavored vapor products, including mint and menthol varieties. The ban is taking place under the state’s emergency administrative rule by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Effective October 2, 2019, Michigan’s flavored vape ban prohibits both retail and online sales of flavored vaping products within the state, with an exception for tobacco-flavored vapor products.
New York’s Flavored Vape Ban Tied Up in the Courts
New York came in on the heels of Michigan and tried to enforce a flavored vape ban the day before Michigan’s ban was set to take effect. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of an emergency ban on flavored vaping products came in response to the recent outbreak of lung illnesses – despite the fact that the New York State Department of Health made an announcement regarding a breakthrough into the investigation with a possible link to THC vapes, rather than nicotine e-cigarettes.
The link was discovered after detecting high levels of Vitamin E acetate in nearly all of the THC vape samples analyzed by the Wadsworth center. Regardless of the findings, the ban officially passed with a vote by the Public Health and Health Planning Council on Tuesday night, September 17. And New York became the first state to ban flavored e-cigs with the effective date of October 1.
On a somewhat positive note, New York (unlike Michigan) stated the state would allow menthol vaping products to remain on the market, however, there was mention that this may only be “for now”. And that “for now” didn’t last long. The governor ordered New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to complete a thorough review on menthol e-cigs and report his findings within 14 days.
By September 26, Governor Cuomo accepted a recommendation made by New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to also include menthol flavors under the ban based on the review which was, of course, based on youth vaping.
The effective date for the menthol vape ban is still unclear as the Public Health and Health Planning Council still needs to hold an emergency hearing to approve it, which is scheduled for October 10. In the meantime, New York’s original flavor ban ended up getting tied up in the courts and was put on hold by the court of appeals. The state is now “temporarily enjoined and prevented from enforcing” the flavor ban until a ruling on the motion for a preliminary injunction is determined. That motion hearing is scheduled for October 18, 2019
Rhode Island Follows Michigan and New York
Rhode Island became the third state to ban vape flavors with an executive order signed by Governor Gina Raimondo on September 25. This is yet another emergency (and temporary) ban that will be in effect for four months with the option to extend for another two months.
During a news conference regarding the ban, Raimondo held up a box of strawberry flavored vaping products and said it resembled a cereal box, and went on to say, “What adult do you know drinks strawberry milk? Chocolate milk? This is targeted at kids. Our kids.” Clearly, Raimondo doesn’t have a sweet tooth (and may be just a tad out of touch with reality if she thinks adults don’t enjoy a cold glass of chocolate or strawberry milk).
The effective date for the ban is still unclear as the state’s health department has been tasked with drafting the regulations based on the order but could take effect in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Governor Raimondo’s flavored vaping ban is under scrutiny and has been linked to Big Tobacco under an analysis by Sal Caiozzo. In a press release issued by Caiozzo, he states that it came to his attention that “a strong case has been made that the governor’s decision was tied to Big Tobacco” based on their declining sales and a fundraiser held for the governor by a prominent figure in the tobacco industry.
According to the press release, this prominent figure also “funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to both parties, along with massive donations to state and federal political committees. The press release concluded with Caiozzo stating:
“It is clear from an analysis of Big Tobacco’s decline and the vaping industry’s effect on the tobacco industry, coupled with Governor Raimondo’s 2018 fundraiser, and research dispelling dangers of vaping, a case can be made that the recent ban was politically motivated, if not quid pro” and went on to say, “I call on our Governor to reverse her policy decision in the name of transparency, limited government,and economic opportunity, as the findings presented are not good for open government or the optics of our state leadership.”
Oregon is Next in Line to Ban Flavored Vapes
On Friday, October 4, Oregon became the fourth state to attempt to ban flavored vapes with an executive order. The order was signed by Gov. Kate Brown, who has directed the Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission – you know, the one that approved using Vitamin E acetate as a thickening agent in THC vapes – to put a 180-day ban in place for all flavored vaping products.
In regards to the ban, the governor stated that her first priority is to “safeguard the health of all Oregonians” and “by keeping potentially unsafe products off of store shelves and out of the hands of Oregon’s children and youth” they will prevent “exposing more people to potentially dangerous chemical compounds and help lessen the chance of further tragedy for other Oregon families.”
Apparently a temporary ban isn’t the governor’s only plan for vaping products in Oregon. The agencies have also been tasked with developing other legislative proposals to ban all flavored vaping products permanently, while also increasing regulatory oversight. Oregon’s flavored vape ban is expected to take effect in the coming weeks.
Massachusetts Banned Vaping – And Not Just Flavors
Following New York and Michigan’s statewide flavored vaping bans, Massachusetts has become the next state to enforce statewide restrictions on vaping – but it’s not just for flavors.
On Tuesday, September 24, the Public Health Council of Massachusetts quickly approved Governor Charlie Baker’s order to enforce a four-month emergency ban on ALL vaping products, including electronic cigarettes and THC vapes. This makes Massachusetts the first state to ban vaping entirely. The order comes as a declaration of a public health emergency and states the reason behind the ban is to allow time for investigation into the recent lung illness outbreak, of which 61 cases have been reported within the state, along with the “epidemic of e-cigarette use among youth”.
This order also comes despite the evidence pointing to THC containing Vitamin E acetate and black market vapes allegedly containing a mix of THC and nicotine. Nonetheless, the state’s vaping ban is effective immediately and will remain effective until Jan. 25, which could then could be extended if the council chooses to do so.
More Flavor Bans on the Way
If you’re aren’t a Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, or Rhode Island resident but are wondering if your state or city will be next, then here’s a list of other cities and states that are in the process of implementing a vaping flavor ban.
Arkansas Eyes Flavor Bans and Tax Increases
Officials in Arkansas have not officially moved forward with a proposed vape ban, but it may be next on the list as Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Jim Hendren pushes the issue in an effort to gain support. In the meantime, the state’s senate leader announced this week that the state plans to draft a bill to raise taxes on electronic cigarettes and ban them in places where smoking is prohibited.
California’s Vaping Bans
In 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-liquids and electronic cigarettes. An outraged vaping community was able to collect enough signatures to force a referendum vote on Proposition E, which was held and passed in June of 2018.
On Friday, June 29, Mayor London Breed signed the ordinance to ban vape sales, which would become effective 30 days from the signing and “operational” in January of 2020. Voters will have yet another chance to vote on the matter in this year’s elections coming up in November with Proposition C. Voting in favor of Proposition C would partially overturn the city’s ban on vapor product sales and distribution within the city, authorizing the sale of electronic cigarettes and other vapor products.
The proposition would also require additional licensing and permits to businesses in the industry, including online sales, as well as implement additional age verification requirements and rules regarding the advertisement of vapor products.
Sacramento is yet another California city that has successfully passed a ban on flavored vapor products after the city council’s 7-1 vote in April of this year. The ordinance is expected to take effect in January 2020. Some confusing language comes along with the ban with City Code Enforcement Manager, Jose Mendez stating the ordinance will not require any of the city’s nearly 400 tobacco retailers to close; however, the city plans to close any shops that increase their inventory of flavored tobacco products, stop selling tobacco products for more than 60 days, or fail to renew their licenses.
If the city closes shops for any of those reasons, the licenses will not be issued to new shops. Additionally, new tobacco retailers will be prohibited from opening within 1,000 feet of another shop.
Colorado’s Vaping Bans
Aspen became the first Colorado city to pass a ban on flavored vapor products in May of this year, with the effective date set for January 2020. The ban covers all flavored tobacco products as well, including traditional cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.
The city of Boulder finalized a plan to ban the sale of flavored vape products within city limits, along with raising the minimum purchasing age to 21. The city is also pursuing a hefty tax on the remaining legal (tobacco-flavored) vapor products at 40% and will be seeking voter approval on the November ballot while traditional tobacco cigarettes remain untouched. This presented a division in support as some council members believe that imposing a tax on the modern nicotine delivery systems would shift users back to traditional cigarettes. The effective date of the ban is still unclear.
Carbondale joined Aspen in the flavored vape ban bandwagon after being approved by the town’s board of trustees during a meeting in August. Two out of the nine speakers at the meeting opposed the ban with Denver-based representative Brian Fojtik stating the ban is an overreaction that will end up hurting the people using e-cigs to quit smoking instead of addressing how kids are getting their hands on these products. The ordinance will also raise the minimum age requirement for purchasing tobacco to 21. The ban’s implementation date is unclear, but will most likely take effect along with Aspen’s ban in January 2020.
Glenwood Springs is another Colorado city taking a step towards a flavored vape ban after an ordinance passed its first reading in late July. In addition to banning the sale of flavored vapor products, the ordinance will also raise the minimum age requirement for tobacco sales to 21.
Illinois Vaping Bans
Chicago joined the growing list of vape bans across the country as we were putting together this article. The new “anti-vaping” initiatives were announced this past Monday, September 16. Senator Dick Durbin says the ban could take 30 days to take effect, so they’re looking at “other solutions”, including introducing an ordinance to ban flavored vape products at the next city council meeting. Now, Illinois is looking to become the next state to ban both flavored tobacco products and electronic cigarette flavors with House Bill 3887.
Washington D.C. Considers Joining the Flavor Ban Spree
According to a recent Tweet By Greg Conley, President of the American Vaping Association (AVA) and a New Jersey attorney, Washington D.C. is also looking into a flavor ban, along with other regulations. This comes on top of the city’s 96% wholesale tax on vapor products.
White Cloud Tobacco Flavor Options for Customers Affected by Bans
We here at White Cloud have no choice but to discontinue shipping flavored vapor products to our customers affected by the bans. Now as vapers ourselves, we’re having quite a hard time suggesting tobacco flavor options for our customers to replace their favorite (and now banned) flavors.
We simply cannot say, “Oh you enjoy our Espresso flavor? Then you’ll LOVE our Regular tobacco flavor.” No, you probably won’t. We know that. But it is possible to get used to it, just like you may have gotten used to e-cigs after switching from tobacco – and at this point, your only choices are to switch to a tobacco flavor, go back to traditional cigarettes 😱, or to simply quit altogether. We all know that’s easier said than done, even though studies have shown quitting e-cigs may be easier than quitting tobacco.
So which tobacco flavor should you choose? As a fan of our Cinnamon flavor, I’ve thought about what tobacco flavor I’d switch to if (or even when) flavors are banned in our area and decided I’d most likely switch to Bora Bora. This also seemed to be the option for some of our fellow fans of Cinnamon. What might make this a little easier for affected customers is our selection of tobacco flavors. We have six different tobacco flavored options to choose from, including two pipe tobacco flavors, while other brands may end up with just one.
Now let’s take a look at White Cloud flavors and which of our tobacco flavors could make a good replacement for Michigan and New York vapers affected by the flavor ban.
|White Cloud Tobacco Flavors||White Cloud Flavors Affected by Bans|
|Regular Tobacco Flavor||Mint to Be, Zero K Menthol|
|Apache Tobacco Flavor||Espresso, Menthol|
|Atlantic Cut Tobacco Flavor||Muscat Blanc, What A Melon, Grand Ambrosia|
|Bora Bora||Mango Tango, The Hive, The Orchard, orAngelic|
|Cavendish Tobacco Flavor||Vanilla, Copper Kettle, Whippin’ Good, Chocolate, Fraise Crème|
|Cherry Black Tobacco Flavor||Cin, Cina-MMM|
As of now, White Cloud menthol varieties will still be available for New York vapers, including Menthol, Mint to Be, and Zero K Menthol. For those who prefer White Cloud’s flavored varieties, we know the suggested tobacco options won’t work as the best replacements for everyone. Some Cin users may migrate to Bora Bora instead of Cherry Black Tobacco, and some Menthol, Mint to Be, and Zero K Menthol users may end up preferring Cherry Black Tobacco or Cavendish Tobacco.
Luckily, we offer all ClearDraw MAX and disposables in singles, so you can grab a few with your next order and decide for yourself which one will be the best replacement for your taste.
How Many More Flavor Bans Are on the Way?
It seems there is a new headline about a state or city planning to ban flavored vapor products every single day since the lung illness outbreak. As you can imagine, it’s getting a bit difficult to keep up with this list, but we will continue to add to it as the news unfolds to keep our customers up-to-date and ready to look at their options.
In the meantime, we’ll also be keeping an eye on the Trump Administration’s plans for flavored vapor products, which initially Trump was all for but is now backtracking. Even former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb has spoken out on Twitter, stating that the recent lung illness outbreak links to illegal products, not electronic cigarettes, while a Washington Post reporter spoke out in an article titled, “A vaping ban would be hysteria masquerading as prudence”.
Regardless, vaping bans are underway and we here at White Cloud will continue doing our best to keep our customers informed. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow Michael Siegel’s blog as he keeps up with all of the latest news and regulations surrounding electronic cigarettes and tells “The Rest of the Story”, along with CASAA’s Calls to Action page which posts about the latest vaping regulations and what vapers can do to make their voices heard.
As always, if you have any questions about White Cloud products or need more help choosing a tobacco flavor, our customer service team is always ready to help.