Health Officials File Emergency Regulations to Keep Massachusetts Vaping Ban in Place

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's administration took steps Monday to maintain its retail ban on all vaping products.

The Department of Public Health filed an emergency regulation with the secretary of state's office to comply with a Superior Court judge's ruling while keeping the first-in-the-nation ban on vaping products from lifting.

Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins had ruled last week that the governor pursue an emergency regulation or allow sales of nicotine vaping products to resume next week. He said the Baker administration had likely exceeded its executive authority by using the declaration of a public health emergency to issue a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products.

The court order applied only to nicotine vaping products. The sale of marijuana vaporizers continue to be banned while legal challenges move through the courts.

Wilkins gave the administration it until Monday to reissue the ban as an emergency regulation.

Baker declared a pubic health emergency on Sept. 24 in relation to the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries, which has resulted in 47 cases from Massachusetts being referred to the Centers for Disease Control for review, including one death.

But businesses seeking to overturn the ban argued that the governor overstepped his executive authority and violated the state constitution's separation of powers, causing irreparable harm to vape shop owners who were put at risk of going out of business.

Unlike the ban Baker tried to issue under his emergency powers, using the regulatory process will result in Baker's ban being shortened to three months. His administration will also have to hold a pubic hearing before Dec. 24, and draft a small business impact statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet identified the cause of the lung injuries or the ingredients that may be to blame, but the agency did say last week that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been present in most samples tested and most patients affected have reported vaping THC.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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