Judge upholds Gov. Baker’s vaping ban after state health officials report 2nd death

BOSTON (WHDH) – A  judge moved to uphold Governor Charlie Baker’s emergency ban on vaping Wednesday — a ruling that came just hours after health officials announced a second Massachusetts resident has died from a vaping-associated lung injury.

Vape retailers filed a complaint with a Suffolk Superior Court judge asking for an emergency order for a “show cause” hearing in an attempt to delay or end the ban entirely. However, the judge denied the request as news that a woman in her 40s from Middlesex County has died as a result of vaping nicotine.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the woman is among more than 200 suspected vaping-associated lung injury patients that have been reported to the department since September, when Massachusetts began requiring clinicians to immediately report any unexplained lung injury in a patient with a history of vaping.

“Our hearts obviously go out to the friends and family of the woman who died,” Baker said. “This is exactly why we felt it was important to move pretty aggressively on this issue several weeks ago.”

Earlier this month, the DPH reported the state’s first death from a vaping-associated lung injury, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, who also vaped nicotine.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of a second patient from this lung injury,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “While we continue to work with our federal partners to investigate the cause of these vaping-associated lung injuries, we cannot at this time attribute a single substance or product to this outbreak of illness.”

Baker declared a public health emergency on Sept. 24 and temporarily banned the sale of vaping products and devices, in response to the growing number of cases of severe lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes and cannabis and nicotine vaping products in Massachusetts and nationally.

Since the state began mandating the reporting of vaping-associated lung injuries on September 11, DPH has received 204 reports from clinicians of suspected vaping-associated lung injuries.

Of those 204 reports, 20 confirmed and 41 probable cases have been reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Clinicians are asked to report any individual experiencing otherwise unexplained progressive symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, or weight loss, of any severity, and an abnormal chest imaging study, who also reports vaping within the 90 days prior to the onset of symptoms.

Of the 61 Massachusetts cases that have been reported to the CDC, 27 are male and 34 are female. A majority of the cases– 51 percent – are under the age of 30. Thirty percent of the people vaped only nicotine, 39 percent vaped only tetrahydrocannabinol, an ingredient found in marijuana, while 25 percent reported vaping nicotine and THC.

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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