BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced Wednesday the launch of a task force to examine the effects of vaping and e-cigarettes.

“As Maryland’s chief tobacco regulator, my job is to safeguard public health, protect consumers and keep dangerous products out of the hands of children,” Franchot said.

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“With each passing day, we are learning more about the severe health risks and the 33 confirmed deaths across the United States from vaping. Despite these reports, there is still so much that we do not know about the nature and characteristics of these products,” he added. “It is imperative that those of us in government work closely with public health officials, advocates and retailers to develop a deeper understanding of these products and establish appropriate laws that govern how they are manufactured, distributed and sold.”

Franchot will ask Maryland’s Speaker of the House and Senate President to appoint two members of their respective chambers to serve on the task force.

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The task force, called “e-facts” will convene later this fall and into the new year.

The task force directives will be:

  • To achieve a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of ESDs, including the distinctions between various products within the marketplace;
  • To gain a comprehensive picture of the public health and safety of ESDs and commercial effects of product sales in Maryland; and,
  • To recommend new and stronger laws to ensure that consumers – particularly young people – are protected.

“Understanding these devices and the effects on people, especially teenagers, and the effects on their health and development, is my top priority,” Comptroller Franchot said. “We can only begin to affect change through gathering the necessary data and information needed to save lives.”

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Franchot’s announcement comes on the same day the state’s health department upped the number of vaping-related illnesses in Maryland to 38.

Rachel Menitoff