CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Gina Raimondo sat down with a group of Central Falls High School students Wednesday to explain why she chose to temporarily ban flavored vaping products statewide.
“I wanted to protect you guys,” she said. “The truth is if you get addicted to this stuff at 12, 13, 14 years old – that’s a lifetime of addiction.”
The ban, initiated by Raimondo last week, will halt the sale of flavored vaping products statewide for at least 120 days. The move follows a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that urged states to take action while they investigate a possible connection between vaping and lung injuries.
“We have seen the youth have significantly increased their use of e-cigarettes primarily driven by the flavors,” Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott said.
There have been 805 cases of lung injuries reported from 46 states related to vaping, including 12 deaths in 10 states, according to the CDC.
“I couldn’t waste any more time,” Raimondo said. “I knew what I needed to know to take action.”
To date, the Rhode Island Department of Health has not reported any vaping-related illnesses. In neighboring Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health has reported five confirmed and five probable cases, leading Gov. Charlie Baker to issue a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products statewide.
One student expressed concern, telling Raimondo the ban may negatively impact his family.
“There’s a chance my parents may start smoking again,” he said.
Raimondo reassured the student, saying that’s the reason she only banned flavored vaping products and not all vaping products.
“I chose not to do that for the exact reason you just said,” she told the student.
Raimondo said she is working with the Rhode Island State Police to determine the best way to enforce the flavor ban. She said whatever they decide will be revealed soon, adding that they should begin to enforce the flavor ban within a week’s time.