According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between early August and September, there have been five reported cases of lung illnesses connected to vaping exclusively in the state of Maine. Nationally, vaping-induced lung illnesses have hospitalized more than 800 people and been the cause of 12 deaths.
Although names will not be released, four adults and one young adult were affected by vaping-related lung illnesses in the state of Maine.
State Sen. Rebecca Millet proposed a bill that will ban all sales of any vaping products such as Juul products, e-cigarettes and Blu electronic cigarette products until the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publically releases they have been declared as non-hazardous. This proposal follows in the footsteps of Massachusetts, where the state recently implemented a ban on vaping products.
This ban will potentially restrict anyone trying to purchase any vaping products, even those of legal purchasing age.
As a state senator, Millet feels it is her responsibility to ban vaping for the overall well-being of those living in Maine, given the recent illness stemming from the use of these vaping products.
“My job is also to make sure that Maine citizens are not putting their health in jeopardy, and until we can be assured that that’s not happening, I can’t support their being sold,” Millet said.
Gov. Janet Mills also is working with the Maine Centers for Disease Control, directing them to collaborate with the attorney general’s office. Mills hopes that this partnership will increase the security on vaping products, making them harder for adolescents to purchase and use.
In December of 2018, United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams announced vaping has become an epidemic impacting both young adults and youth. Since then, the number of adolescents participating in vaping have significantly increased. The health impacts of vaping are currently at a test stage, and the long term effects of vaping have not been outlined or released for public knowledge, which means that many who participate in vaping may be endangering themselves.
The vaping ban will have an impact on all Mainers, including University of Maine students. When the state raised the smoking age to 21, many students were impacted, as not all students made the birth date requirement. Some students are in favor of the ban, whereas others are strongly opposed.
Lucas Jasonides, a second-year student who has not yet declared a major, is in favor of a statewide ban on vaping products.
“Growing up, society and adults worked so hard to make a point on how harmful cigarettes are, and to let a little piece of metal take that just seems like a waste,” Jasonides said about e-cigarettes.
However, Kelly Willigar, a local vape shop owner, is opposed to the ban Millet is proposing. Willigar noted that this ban will have a negative impact on her business. Additionally, Willigar believes if this ban is implemented, smokers will surely turn to other alternatives which could be more detrimental, or they may try accessing the banned products in illegal ways.
“There are illegal drug dealers who are selling cartridges on the black market, and they are now punishing the legal, FDA-regulated products,” Willigar noted.
Millet plans to propose the ban in time for the legislative session in January.