Massachusetts Medical Society: Statement on Public Health Emergency of Vaping Related Pulmonary Disease

Statement on Public Health Emergency of Vaping Related Pulmonary Disease

The physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society appreciate Governor Baker’s and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s due attention and response to the public health emergency of vaping-related pulmonary illness. The imminent threat posed by the sudden onset of this illness which, as of September 20, 2019, has affected 530 people and killed 7 people nationwide, is of paramount concern and indeed poses a substantial risk to human health. 

The rapid rise in suspected and confirmed vaping-related lung illnesses is alarming, with 61 cases reported in Massachusetts to date. The lack of certainty as to why some of our patients have become so seriously ill underscores the urgent need for intervention. We support the temporary prohibition on the sale of vaping products as an appropriate means to prevent illness and death while the resources of the state and federal government are applied to understand and address this crisis. Public health authorities are gathering data daily, demonstrating heightened concern over the acute health effects of vaping-related illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance advising physicians to watch for respiratory issues potentially associated with usage of vaping and e-cigarette products and the DPH has required all suspected cases of unexplained vaping-associated lung illnesses to be reported. 

The Medical Society is committed to working with Governor Baker and the DPH and all concerned stakeholders through this crucial period, during which we are confident the collection and systematic evaluation of data and evidence will inform a comprehensive public health strategy to address this public health emergency. We agree with a temporary ban on the sale of vaping products in response to a declared public health emergency – it is imperative a clear strategy be implemented to ensure affordable and immediate access to vaping cessation tools, treatment, and support in order to prevent further illness.

We are especially concerned about the impact of the ban on young people and urge that systems be put in place immediately to assure our youth have access to appropriate and confidential care.  

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