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House District 25 state Rep. Bill Post calls governor's decision heavy handed

On Oct. 15, the ban on flavored vaping in Oregon began. I am strongly opposed to this ban, but to be very clear, I don't think inhaling anything into one's lungs is wise. I was a smoker myself until about 25 years ago and quitting was the smartest thing I've ever done. Still, I feel very strongly that we all have the right to choose whether to use those products.

When the governor announced that she was enacting a six month ban on "flavored vaping," I was immediately alarmed and asked legislative counsel by what authority she could do that. Here is a condensed version of their answer:

"The governor is the state's chief executive officer and functions as the head of the executive branch of government, with the duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'"

The Oregon Constitution specifies the extent of the governor's direct powers, and the other branches of state government, including the Legislative Assembly.

Of course, the governor's power is not unlimited: the governor may not, for example, require a state agency to take an action the agency has no power to take.

"Although Executive Order 19-09 has been referred to as a 'ban' on vaping products, the two relevant provisions of the order merely direct the OLCC and OHA to adopt temporary administrative rules banning vaping products. In other words, a ban on vaping products will not take effect until the OHA and OLCC actually adopt rules enacting a ban."

On Oct. 11, the OLCC and OHA both adopted those rules. That, in effect, created the ban that started Oct. 15. I joined with our House Republican leader Rep. Christine Drazan when she released this statement: "Banning vaping products won't help solve this problem. We need more research into what is happening and how we can make sure this doesn't happen again! There are obvious health issues associated with vaping, but we don't know the full story here. We need more research into what is causing these illnesses and deaths."

On the same day, the state announced another two vaping-related illnesses in Oregon, bringing the total to 11. Federal investigators have tallied nearly 1,300 cases in 49 states and 26 deaths, including two in Oregon, linked to vaping. Tobacco products are known to cause about 480,000 deaths a year in the United States, dwarfing the deaths so far linked to vape products. This inconsistency is problematic, not to mention the concern of the slippery slope of bans of anything. What will the government decide is next on the "bad for you" list?

Lastly, I am greatly concerned for the vape/smoke shops in my district that will be drastically affected by this ban. One shop told me that this ban was "90 percent of her business" and that "she wouldn't survive this." State and federal health officials have connected most of the illnesses to vape oils with THC, the key chemical in marijuana, not nicotine liquids as well as the delivery system that could already be illegal to sell.

Lastly, protecting young people from this product was clearly addressed in 2017 when the Legislature passed SB 754, which banned the sale of all tobacco products to anyone under 21. I am calling for greater enforcement of existing law and the protection of the rights of those over the age of 21 to use this product.

Bill Post represents District 25 in the Oregon House


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