Aftermarket vaping cartridges have been making people ill. Some have died. Massachusetts responded by banning the sale of vaping products in the State for four months. While some are filing lawsuits and staging protests cross border sales in New Hampshire are up. Way up.
Since the ban took effect, sales of e-cigarettes have more than doubled at the three southern New Hampshire locations of VERC Enterprises, a chain of 28 convenience stores in New England, said owner Leo Vercollone. Meanwhile, he said, sales of cigarettes — which fell 7 percent last year and 10 percent so far this year — are increasing at the chain’s Massachusetts stores. The New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association said other businesses are seeing the same pattern.
Asked about former smokers going from nicotine vape back to cigarettes, Gov. Baker said,
“In two or three weeks, you’re not going to have the kind of impact on your physical health, smoking cigarettes, that these devices have delivered to people around the country.”
It’s 16 weeks, and sure, he has a point, but not everyone wants to or is willing to go back to cigarettes. And not everyone can get to New Hampshire or wants too. So, Baker’s ban is driving them into the product market responsible for the health risks he insists his prohibition is meant to prevent.
There have been several stories in the media recently about vapers who either became sick or died. What’s going on? A lot of different things that are all being (improperly) lumped together.
In one instance, a vaper suffered a collapsed lung. But as Dr. Chuck Dinerstein explained, that has nothing to do with vaping. Several hundred others have developed severe respiratory problems, and five have died. The vast majority appear linked to vaping THC-infused oil or some other product purchased off the street.
More have died since that piece was written. But most likely for the same reasons. Black market or aftermarket product that uses vitamin E or other oils.
Since marijuana chemicals are not soluble in water other chemicals have been added in an attempt to increase solubility Bad move. One of these additives is vitamin E acetate, which boils at >300°C. This has made matters worse – something that my colleague Dr. Alex Berezow discusses in his companion piece
Vaporizing and inhaling these oils can trigger lipoid pneumonia. The colloquial term for that has become Vaping Lung. (There’s a great explanation of the chemistry behind it here if you want to geek out).
The point is that while New Hampshire retailers are selling the stuff Baker banned that is safe for adults, many Bay State citizens (and those who have gotten ill or died) are finding and using products more likely to cause them harm.
Massachusetts is virtue signaling to the detriment of the stated cause. If public health is the point, the vaping product sales ban is the last thing you should do.
And yet it was the first thing they did in Massachusetts.
| Boston Globe (Subscription Required)