Oregon’s New Vaping Ban – Banning The Good, Bad, And Ugly

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As of October 15th, all vaping products (juice, pods, etc) that contain flavor additives (aka reintroduced terpenes) are on a temporary six-month ban in the state of Oregon as per a new executive order passed by Gov. Kate Brown on October 4th. 

“The state is imposing the ban after nine Oregonians were sickened, including two who died from a lung illness associated with vaping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1,300 people across 49 states have been sickened during the outbreak” (1). 

This ban, albeit temporary, is a step in the wrong direction. 

“The restrictions bar retailers from selling nicotine liquids that taste like anything but tobacco as well as cannabis liquids that taste like anything but marijuana or that contain any chemicals not derived from marijuana. Flavored liquids with CBD for vaping also are banned” (2). The temporary rules, which will remain in effect for six months starting Oct. 15, prohibit the sale of all flavored vaping products — including online sales — to consumers in Oregon. The ban covers all tobacco and cannabis (marijuana and hemp) vaping products that contain natural or artificial flavors including, but not limited to, chocolate, coffee, cocoa, menthol, mint, wintergreen, vanilla, honey, coconut, licorice, nuts, fruit, any candy, dessert, alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, herb or spice (3).

Not all flavor additives are inorganically derived, some come from terpenes. For those who don’t know, terpenes are the chemical compound that is associated with flavor and smell, they are naturally occurring compounds in several plants, fruits, and vegetables.”Terpenes (and terpenoids) are aromatic organic hydrocarbons found in many plants and even some insects.” (4).  

This ban is trying to target the manufacturers who have been putting fillers and toxins into their cannabis or nicotine vaping products but because of the language, it discriminates against all companies who try to add additional flavors into their products per consumer demand regardless of where the flavor is sourced from. 

Companies such as Orchid are being affected by this even though they use naturally derived fruit terpenes to add flavor to their products. The ban does not care that these terpenes are found naturally and can be derived from organic products—it does not matter how healthy they are because the politicians who are writing these laws are not familiar with the nuances of these industries/products. They want to stop the deaths associated with vaping without considering why these deaths are occurring in the first place. 

The industry is plagued with overconsumption from users of all ages, but predominantly affecting young teens. “Among Oregon high school students who use e-cigarettes exclusively, nearly 90 percent use flavored e-cigarette products, OHA found” (3). Issues of manufacturers saturating the market bad product with cheap price tags are also the culprit. 

Several vape shops are going to have a hard adjustment period. Considering that so much of the actual vaping product (aka e-juice) is unable to be sold, vape shops are hoping to get by just selling hardware—the mods, batteries, and accessories. Selling only hardware is typically not an issue but if you can’t use it due to no more vape liquid, why buy? I estimate that if this ban becomes permanent, majority, if not all vape shops will have gone out of business within a year. That means our unemployment rate will increase and our GDP will decrease since we are no longer producing/selling goods of this nature.

This ban is only a pushback against the vaping industry. It is trying to put money back into the tobacco industry. When you see that cigarette consumption has plummeted by almost 21% from 10 years ago (5), it only makes sense that the government is getting involved to try to push the masses back into the correct heard of sheep following one path- the cigarette/traditional nicotine path. 

We all want to prevent unnecessary deaths. To do so, we need to be smart about how we implement new laws. The way this ban is currently operating is doing more harm than good. They state that this ban makes out of state purchases equally illegal but enforcing that is going to be quite difficult; if anything, it just draws business out of Oregon and online. 

Instead of doing a broad stroke ban that takes money away from the people and the state, why not hold the FDA accountable for providing adequate research on vaping and its chemicals, hold the manufacturers accountable by requiring proper batch testing, or making it more difficult to sell to minors because children as young as 11 are admitting to vaping.

Our congress will reconvene on this bill in six months to decide if they will continue with the ban as is permanently or make adjustments. If you are a person who enjoys vaping, either nicotine or cannabis products, are a proponent of small business, or just want to do your due diligence as a citizen, reach out to Kate Brown’s office and let her know what you think of this ban. 

Phone

Governor’s Constituent Services Office

(503) 378-4582

Mail 

Governor Brown

Attn: Citizens’ Representative

160 State Capitol

900 Court Street

Salem, Oregon 97301-4047


Resources: 

  1. https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-vapers-circumvent-ban-internet/
  2. https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2019/10/oregon-flavored-vape-ban-hits-tobacco-shops-hard.html
  3. https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ERD/Pages/OLCCFileRulesBanningFlavoredVapingSalesIncludingOnline.aspx
  4. https://www.heylocannabis.com/post/what-are-terpenes
  5. “Smoking and Tobacco Use Fact Sheet”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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About Author

Alecya Krivolenkov

Alecya is an Oregon native and Portland State alumni. She is a cannabis, food, and sex education enthusiast. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, you can find her in the garden trying to grow something for next harvest or in front of the TV binging the latest and greatest. She aspires to write her own cookbook as well as open a multi-facility clinic for sexual trauma survivors. You can follow her cooking on instagram: @kushaipdx

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