Utah issues emergency rule amid vaping-related illnesses
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah health officials enacted an emergency rule Wednesday restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and requiring warnings about unregulated THC products amid an outbreak of lung illness related to vaping.
All tobacco sellers will be required to post notices about the danger of vaping unregulated THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana that’s been linked to most lung-damage cases in Utah.
The Utah Department of Health also said flavored nicotine e-cigarette products will be banned from general tobacco retailers, including grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations, to help keep them away from young people.
Many people who vape THC start with flavored nicotine, said Joseph Miner, a director at the health department.
Retailers will have until Monday to comply.
Some vape shop owners have expressed support for the new rule.
“We want to work hand-in-hand with the Department of Health and educate people on the difference between legal and illegal vape products,” Austin Healy, the owner of two vape shops in Utah and a member of the Utah Vapor Business Association said.
The U.S. has seen an explosion in youth vaping in recent years, with critics saying the industry is marketing flavors that appeal to teens.
The administration of President Donald Trump has proposed a sweeping ban on e-cigarette flavors. Several states have already done so.
Utah has been hit especially hard in the outbreak, Miner said.
Utah health officials have reported 71 lung-damage cases linked to vaping. Ten more potential cases are being investigated, the agency said.
The department said 94% of the people who became sick reported vaping THC products and 64% reported vaping nicotine they purchased at vape shops or convenience stores in Utah. State health officials are still investigating where the THC cartridges come from but suspect many are illegally purchased off the streets.
At least 805 people across the country have become sick from vaping, and 13 people have died, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.
Symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
Health officials throughout the country are advising people not to use any vaping product until the cause of the illnesses is better understood.