Gov. Baker Stands by Vape Ban Decision, Says It Wasn’t Easy

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a Lawrence press conference in the wake of Thursday's explosions and fires across the Merrimack Valley. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Gov. Charlie Baker has been both applauded and threatened with legal action in the days since rolling out the first-in-the-nation ban on all vaping products, but on Thursday the governor said he had no regrets.

“Once we had met with all the medical experts, to do nothing was just not a viable option,” Baker told the State House News Service on Thursday after an event in Everett where he talked up his housing legislation.

Last week, Baker announced he would ban all flavored and non-flavored vaping products for four months while the medical community and federal health inspectors try to determine what has caused a spate of severe vape-related lung disease.

The ban, which was approved by the Public Health Council, made Massachusetts the first state in the country to include tobacco flavored vaping products and both medical and non-medical marijuana in a ban on retail sales.

Asked about concerns that the ban might foster a black market, Baker did not acknowledge a difference in the threat to public health between illicit and legal vaping products.

“Vaping is the fundamental issue here. It’s not about anything else. It’s not about nicotine. It’s not about marijuana. It’s about vaping,” Baker said.

The governor said it was “not an easy decision,” to move ahead with the ban, and said his administration considered the “economic dislocation” it might cause.

“I totally get that there’s disruption associated with this but compared to the rising number of people who are perfectly healthy but have this terrible debilitating injury to their lungs, who are in fact on the verge of dying, it seemed like the right choice and I stand by it,” he said.

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