PROVIDENCE — Governor Gina M. Raimondo said she considers vaping a public health crisis and she plans to announce on Wednesday how she will use her authority to address it.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday ordered a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products in his state. When asked about Baker’s action Tuesday, she said, “I am looking at that, and I am looking to go further.”
“As I said last week, I am very concerned and have been spending the past week or so figuring out what I am able to do with executive authority,” Raimondo said.
When asked if she considered vaping a public health crisis, she said, “I do. I am a mother of middle school kids. It is a problem. It is a problem that too many kids are getting hooked. I see it as a parent. I see it as a governor.”
Raimondo said people aren’t fully aware of the risks. “The risks are increasing,” she said. “I think it’s getting scarier. So I think it’s time to take action.”
Last week, New York became the first state to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes.
“We are looking at that,” Raimondo said. “I am working with the lawyers now to figure out the full extent of my authority and what I would be allowed to do.”
Massachusetts officials said they’ve received reports of 61 cases of potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping.
The Rhode Island Department of Health only reports confirmed cases of vaping-related illness, and it had not confirmed any such cases as of Tuesday, spokesman Joseph Wendelken said.
Nationwide, vaping has been tied to nine deaths and 530 illnesses.
Wendelken said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t yet know what is behind those cases, but he said a significant number of them involve vaping with devices containing THC.
“We don’t want people to use e-cigarettes at all, but if they do, they should use them as indicated by the manufacturer,” Wendelken said. He noted Rhode Island has set up a smokers help line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.