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Oregon Governor Announces Temporary Ban On Flavored Vaping Products

<p>A fifth Oregonian has fallen ill from the mystery vaping illness.&nbsp;</p>

Kristian Foden-Vencil

A fifth Oregonian has fallen ill from the mystery vaping illness. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has announced a temporary ban on all flavored vaping products.

The executive order lasts for six months and calls for state agencies to develop a plan for warning labels, ingredient disclosures, product safety testing and a campaign to discourage vaping.

“My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” Brown said. "By keeping potentially unsafe products off of store shelves and out of the hands of Oregon's children and youth, we prevent exposing more people to potentially dangerous chemical compounds and help lessen the chance of further tragedy for any other Oregon family."

Brown said the safest option for Oregonians who use tobacco or cannabis is to avoid vaping products of any kind.

"Until we know more about what is causing this illness, please, do not vape," she said. "Encourage your friends and family members to stop vaping immediately. Talk to your children about the dangers of vaping. The risks are far too high."

E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco products used by Oregon youth, with 23% of 11th graders reporting use in 2019. That's up from 13% in 2017.

The Oregon Health Authority says eight Oregonians have been sickened by the illness. Two have died. 

The ban is being strongly supported by those in the health care industry, who say flavors like bubble gum and mint appeal to kids.

A statement from the Oregon Medical Association, the Oregon Nurses Association and the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health systems said limiting access to vaping will prevent lifelong addiction for some young people.  

"This public health crisis has been decades in the making, and includes both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. That’s why we continue to advocate for raising the price of tobacco products and e-cigarettes. These actions are vital for preventing youth use and reducing overall rates for all types of tobacco use,” read the statement. 

The ban is not good news for owners of vaping businesses. 

“I’m very confused as to what I’m supposed to do right now. I mean I’ve been holding tight on like paying my rent, to make sure I’m not going to go out of business,” said Marcus Nettles, who owns Rose City Vapors in Northeast Portland. 

"It says there’s a 180-day ban in her press release, but it doesn’t give an effective date. So I don’t know if I’m supposed to close my shop today, clear the stuff off my shelves and I’m not allowed to sell it right now. Or do I have some time to get rid of my inventory?” 

The governor's office said the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will immediately start work on rules to implement the ban. The actual ban is expected to go into effect in about a week. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the illness has affected more than 1,000 people in over 48 states.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.