BOH Takes on Tobacco Permits, Vaping Ban

            In its quest to reduce and perhaps eliminate tobacco and nicotine use among its constituents, the Marion Board of Health met on November 5 to consider capping the number of tobacco sales licenses in town, which was followed by a discussion on why the board may act to take the ban on e-cigarette and vaping products further than the governor’s four-month ban.

            Health Agent Karen Walega said Marion currently has six tobacco licenses, but it doesn’t have to be that many. She said the board could simply decrease the number of licenses, “Or cap the number of permits that we would be giving out.”

            If one business “drops out,” she said, then the board could refrain from transferring it to another business. If another business sought a license, Walega said, they would have to wait until another business relinquishes theirs.

            “It’s a way to reduce the number of vendors, so that’s being reviewed,” said Walega.

            Walega said she would update the board after she receives some legal input and guidance on the proper language for moving this forward.

            After, board member Dr. Edward Hopper shared the research he has done on the available data on the dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use and blamed e-cigarette manufacturers like Juul for spreading misinformation about the supposed safety of vaping.

            “The Juul people are recreating a lot of what Big Tobacco did 40 or 50 years ago, presenting [vaping] as a healthful alternative,” said Hopper. “But at the same time they’re presenting it this way, they’re also using social media and athletes and young people to market it to kids. The flavored ones… are the big draw for kids just starting…”

            Some of the sources Hopper cites in his handout include a September 19 study printed in JAMA Network Open, which is published by the American Medical Association, analyzing the risk for the carcinogen pulegone in mint and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes. Another of his sources included an October 7 study linking e-cigarette smoke to lung and bladder cancer in mice.

            “And they’re no safer for the heart,” said Hopper. “And, if you do both as some people do, you actually have a much higher risk.”

            According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been over a thousand people diagnosed with a vaping-related illness, and 37 confirmed vaping-related deaths this year in 24 states, including two in Massachusetts. At least 12 deaths have been linked directly to vaping THC products sold on the black market.

            “It’s not just people who vape cannabis products,” said Hopper, “it’s also people who vape plain nicotine products.”

            Hopper had been leading the board’s movement toward banning e-cigarette and vaping products in Marion, but Governor Charlie Baker’s September 14 four-month ban on the sale of e-cigarettes “took some of the heat off us,” said Hopper.

            “Until we know a lot more about it we should support that and consider extending it,” said Hopper.

            The board has taken no official stance on what measures, if any, it will take on furthering the ban, but Hopper said he will be monitoring how the state handles the matter if and when further data is released linking e-cigarettes and vaping to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which Hopper described a “bad pneumonia.”

            At that point, if the state does not take action to address the matter, “Then we will revisit the issue,” Hopper said.

            The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health will be on November 19 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Health

By Jean Perry

Leave A Comment...