Senator asks governor to declare emergency, temporarily halt vape sales

Young male worker smoking electronic cigarette

ByPatrick Phillips|September 27, 2019 at 12:40 PM EDT - Updated September 27 at 12:40 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A South Carolina senator is urging Gov. Henry McMaster to order all sales of vape products be stopped and declare a statewide public health emergency.

Sen. Darrell Jackson, who represents Richland County, sent a letter to the governor’s office Friday. The Democrat wants McMaster to ban the sale of all vape products for four months while state and federal officials investigate the health effects of e-cigarette and vape pen use, according to Jackson’s spokesperson, Meghan Durant.

The request comes afterthe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 10 confirmed or probable severe pulmonary illnesses associated with e-cigarette use or vaping in the state.

“We have to get a grasp on what exactly it is about these chemicals that is making people so sick,” Jackson said. “A four-month ban will buy us time to study if these products are hurting South Carolinians.”

In a letter to McMaster, Jackson said the state has “an opportunity to save lives by taking these products off the shelves” while health officials and medical experts investigate their safety.

The Centers for Disease Control announced says there are now 805 confirmed and probable lung illnesses, a 52 percent jump from the 530 cases reported last week. CDC officials said the death toll rose to 13.

It's not clear how many of the 275 added cases occurred in the last week, and how many are being logged long after they happened. The CDC has not released details on when symptoms began in each case.

The agency’s count includes only illnesses that have met certain criteria. Other illnesses are also being investigated.

The governor’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Photo: Getty Images

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