The Vapor Technology Association is challenging Gov. Charlie Baker's four-month ban on the sale of vaping products. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Friday declined to lift Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker's four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products amid a court battle challenging the ban.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said she wants to wait until oral arguments Oct. 15 to determine whether to overturn the statewide ban. The plaintiffs, led by the Vapor Technology Association, sought a restraining order to temporarily lift the ban amid a wider effort to stop the ban entirely.
Baker ordered the ban on Sept. 24, calling a recent spate of vaping-related illnesses and deaths a public health emergency. As of Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been 1,080 illnesses in the United States and 18 deaths.
"E-cigarette usage is exploding and it's clear there's a very real danger to the population," Baker said last week. "This temporary ban will allow state government and medical providers the time they need to understand the dangers and respond accordingly."
Joseph Terry, of the Vapor Technology Association, told the Boston Herald the organization's members have taken financial hits since the ban. One company laid off employees.
"Under the ban as written, it cannot continue to operate. That's irreparable harm," he said.
Earlier in September, both New York and Michigan outlawed the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, and in June, San Francisco became the first major city in the country to ban the distribution or sale of all e-cigarette products.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September also revealed it has launched a criminal investigation into the the cause of the vape-related illnesses and deaths.
The FDA has not identified any substance or substances on which it can pin the outbreak, said Judy McMeekin, the FDA's deputy associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.
FDA investigators have evaluated 440 samples from patients in 18 states, she said. Many of the products handed over to investigators had been drained of liquids and were harder to test, she said.
Most of the patients appeared to have vaped THC cartridges, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC.
Among 578 patients interviewed, about 78 percent reported using both THC-containing vaping products and nicotine products, Schuchat said. About 37 percent said they used only THC vaping products and about 17 percent told investigators they used only nicotine products.