Friday December 6, 2019

Federal Judge Uphold Massachusetts’ Four-Month Ban on Sale of Vaping Products

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani denied the vaping industry’s request for a temporary reprieve from the ban while their legal challenge plays out.

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Demonstrators gather at the Massachusetts State House to protest against the state’s four-month ban of all vaping product sales in Boston, Oct. 3, 2019. VOA

A federal judge upheld Massachusetts’ four-month ban on the sale of vaping products Friday, at least for now.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani denied the vaping industry’s request for a temporary reprieve from the ban while their legal challenge plays out in Boston federal court, saying the plaintiffs did not show they would likely succeed on the merits of the case or that the “balance of hardships” weighs in their favor. Talwani had said in a hearing earlier in the day that the legal motion felt premature and that the public health concerns prompting the ban likely outweigh any short-term impacts to local businesses.

Another court hearing is set for Oct. 15 where both sides are expected to deliver more extensive arguments in the case.

Lawyers representing local vape shops argued that small, independent operators are being disproportionally hurt by the ban, with many forced to lay off staff or close their shops entirely.

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks with reporters, Sept. 16, 2019, at the Statehouse, in Boston. VOA

“You’re saying I ought to be more concerned about the economic harm to businesses for a two-week period than the potential people who will end up in the hospital during this two-week period?” Talwani asked industry lawyers at one point during the hearing.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker issued the ban and declared a public health emergency Sept. 24 after more than 60 potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping were reported to the state.

The state Public Health Department has since said at least 10 represent probable or confirmed cases of lung illness caused by e-cigarette products. Nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said 18 have died and 1,080 people have been sickened.

Baker has said the ban will allow health officials to determine the cause of the illnesses and decide what further steps are required.

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At least three lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court challenging Massachusetts’ ban, which runs through Jan. 25, 2020, and is considered among the harshest imposed on the industry. Several states, including Michigan, Oregon and Rhode Island, have issued some kind of ban. On Thursday, an appeals court in New York temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a proposed ban on sales of flavored e-cigarettes.

The Vapor Technology Association, a national trade group that’s challenging the bans, argued in its federal lawsuit in Massachusetts that the ban will cause “irreparable harm” to their multimillion-dollar industry.

It also said the ban poses a public health risk by eliminating what it argues is a safer alternative to tobacco and forcing those seeking vaping products to find them on the black market. (VOA)

Next Story

E-Cigarette user Diagnosed with Pneumoconiosis: Study

Vaping leaves e-cigarette user with rare lung scarring

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An e-cigarette user has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung scarring. Pixabay

An e-cigarette user has been diagnosed with a rare form of lung scarring typically found in metal workers, says a new study.

Doctors diagnosed the patient with hard-metal pneumoconiosis, a rare form of lung disease that causes irreparable damage, persistent coughing and breathing issues.

It is typically diagnosed in people who work with ‘hard metals’, such as cobalt or tungsten, in jobs like tool sharpening, diamond polishing or making dental prosthetics.

According to the study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, this is the first known case where the disease has been linked to vaping.

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Doctors diagnosed the patient with hard-metal pneumoconiosis caused due to vaping e-cigarette. Pixabay

“Hard-metal pneumoconiosis is diagnosed by looking at a sample of patient’s lung tissue under the microscope. It has a distinctive and unusual appearance that is not observed in other diseases. When we diagnose it, we are looking for occupational exposure to metal dust or vapour, usually cobalt, as a cause,” said study researcher Kirk Jones from University of California in the US.

“This patient did not have any known exposure to hard metal, so we identified the use of an e-cigarette as a possible cause,” Jones said.

Hard-metal pneumoconiosis causes damaged lung cells to engulf other cells and form ‘giant’ cells that can be seen clearly under a microscope.

It can result in permanent scarring in patients’ lungs with symptoms such as breathing difficulties and chronic coughing.

This scarring cannot be cured, although some patients may have mild improvement if the exposure to hard-metal dust stops and they are treated with steroids.

When researchers tested the patient’s e-cigarette, a personal vaping device used with cannabis, they found cobalt in the vapour it released, as well as other toxic metals – nickel, aluminium, manganese, lead and chromium.

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This is the first known case where the disease has been linked to vaping. Pixabay

Previous research has also found these metals in vapour from other e-cigarettes and researchers say they believe the metals are coming from the heating coils found in vaping devices, rather than from any particular type of re-fill.

“Exposure to cobalt dust is extremely rare outside of a few specific industries. This is the first known case of a metal-induced toxicity in the lung that has followed from vaping and it has resulted in long-term, probably permanent, scarring of the patient’s lungs,” said Indian-origin reasearcher and study co-author Rupal Shah from the University of California.

“We think that only a rare subset of people exposed to cobalt will have this reaction, but the problem is that the inflammation caused by hard metal would not be apparent to people using e-cigarettes until the scarring has become irreversible, as it did with this patient,” Shah added.

“E-cigarettes are harmful, they cause nicotine addiction and can never substitute for evidence-based smoking cessation tools,” said Jorgen Vestbo, Professor at University of Manchester in UK.

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“The medical profession as well as the public should be concerned about a new wave of lung diseases caused by a product which is heavily promoted by the tobacco industry,” Vestbo said. (IANS)