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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

'It's Important For Us To Respond': Vermont Officials Address Vaping Concerns

A man at a podium
Henry Epp
While Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency and banned the sale of vaping products, Gov. Phil Scott does not plan on doing this in Vermont. Scott said he has been speaking to legislative leaders about what can be done.

Gov. Phil Scott does not expect to take emergency measures to restrict vaping products in Vermont, though the state's Senate Committee on Health and Welfare chairperson, Ginny Lyons, plans to introduce related legislation in January.

State officials are considering how to address what has become a national health concern. There have been more than 800 cases of severe vaping-associated respiratory illness as well as 13 deaths reported around the country. Vermont recently had its first reported case of vaping-associated respiratory illness.

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a public health emergency and instituted a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products in that state.

Scott, however, does not intend to do the same in Vermont.

"I'm not sure an entire ban on vaping is in order," Scott said. "But I'm concerned about some of the flavored substances and some of the substances that are being injected into the vaping products."

More from VPR on Vermont Edition: What Do We Really Know About Vaping? [Sept. 13]

At a press conference Thursday, Scott said Vermonthas already taken action to limit vaping products by upping the age limit for purchasing all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. That law took effect Sept. 1.

Scott said the state has also raised the tax on vaping products and banned online sales of the merchandise.

“We’ve taken some steps,” he said. Scott added he was "very concerned" about youth using vaping products and has spoken with legislative leaders about what more can be done to address the issue. 

Lyons, the Senate committee chairperson, plans to introduce legislation in January to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products in Vermont. She said the bill will likely also include a ban on all flavored tobacco products.

Lyons said a total ban might be appropriate if studies by the CDC find the specific cause of these illnesses.

"I think we'll have more information in January," she said. “The most important primary prevention that we can do is with a ban on flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products — that's really very clear and it's important for us to respond to that."   

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
Henry worked for Vermont Public as a reporter from 2017 to 2023.
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