US state of Massachusetts upholds e-cigarette ban amid vaping deaths

Massachusetts became the first American state to issue an outright ban on all e-cigarette devices in September. Above, a demonstrator vapes during a protest against the ban of all vaping product sales in Boston. (Reuters)
Updated 05 October 2019

US state of Massachusetts upholds e-cigarette ban amid vaping deaths

  • Massachusetts became the first American state to issue an outright ban on all e-cigarette devices in September
  • Manufacturers sought to challenge the ban in a Boston court

NEW YORK: The US state of Massachusetts upheld a ban on e-cigarettes Friday amid a spate of deaths and injuries linked to vaping across the country.
Eighteen deaths in 15 states had now been positively linked to vaping since March, from a total of 1,080 illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials in Connecticut also announced a further death in that state on Friday.
Massachusetts became the first American state to issue an outright ban on all e-cigarette devices in September, with the prohibition to last for four months.
Manufacturers sought to challenge the ban in a Boston court, arguing that the law was disproportionate to the health risks posed by the devices.
The Vapor Technology Association instead called for a limited prohibition on certain products, including black market refills and devices for vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive substance of marijuana.
But the court rejected the application for an interim lifting of the ban, saying it would “conflict with the public interest.”
A full hearing of the case will be held on October 15.
E-cigarettes have been available in the US since 2006.
Initially conceived as a smoking cessation device, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed among teens, with preliminary official data for 2019 showing more than a quarter of high school students using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
They were until recently perceived as a less harmful alternative to smoking because they do not contain the 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, dozens of which are known to cause cancer.
It is not clear whether the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses is only happening now, or if there were cases earlier that were wrongly diagnosed.
Only one case of lung injury has been reported abroad, making the outbreak more mysterious still.
Public and political opinion appears to be hardening, however, with the administration of US President Donald Trump announcing in September that it would ban flavored e-cigarette products in the coming months.

Taliban say cease-fire, reduced violence after peace deal

Updated 30 min 15 sec ago

Taliban say cease-fire, reduced violence after peace deal

  • US, Taliban are discussing details for signing the peace agreement, Taliban spokesperson says
  • Dialogue aimed at ending decades-old conflict in Afghanistan 

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban’s spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, said on Monday that a cease-fire with the US and its NATO allies would be declared after the signing of the peace agreement, in order to resolve the protracted conflict in Afghanistan through a negotiated settlement.

“Everything – cease-fire, with all of the foreign troops, and an intra-Afghan dialogue are mentioned in the deal,” he said when questioned about the US’ repeated calls for a reduction in violence as a condition for the agreement.

Speaking to Arab News from Qatar – prior to the resumption of the peace talks which had entered its third day on Monday – Shaheen said that both the Taliban and Washington have already initiated the deal and were discussing the date of signing and other details.

“No date has been decided yet for the signing of the agreement. It could be signed any time, even today or after a week, but there is no decision yet,” he said.

Both groups restarted their formal peace negotiations on Saturday, the first such initiative of its kind after US President Donald Trump called off the talks in early September.

Trump’s decision followed the deaths of 12 people, including a US soldier, in a Taliban-induced bomb attack in Kabul.

The peace talks, which began last year, are aimed at striking a deal with the Taliban to end a decades-old conflict in Afghanistan which has now entered its 18th year. 

This would involve the withdrawal of US and foreign troops from the country in exchange for the insurgents’ guarantee of a cease-fire and that they would not use Afghanistan to launch attacks on other countries.

The Taliban and the US had finalized the peace agreement in August – at the conclusion of the ninth round of talks –but the signing of the deal was blocked after Trump’s abrupt decision to call off the negotiations.

“Peace agreement has already been finalized. There is nothing in the agreement to be amended as both sides have agreed upon on the draft. It has been initiated,” Shaheen said in an audio clip, adding that copies of the draft were with the Qatari government, the US and the Taliban.

Talking about prisoners' release, he said they would be freed in phases with the first group to be released before the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue.

“We will talk to all Afghan sides, including the Kabul administration, after the signing of the peace agreement with the US. The Kabul administration will be a party to the formal intra-Afghan negotiations. We will talk to everyone,” he said, adding that the intra-Afghan talks will start 10 days or two weeks after the deal is inked.

Earlier, Shaheen had told Arab News that the foreign ministers of 23 countries, officials from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN, and representatives from regional and neighboring countries would be attending the ceremony for the signing of the peace deal in Qatar, where the Taliban have their political headquarters.