Charlie Baker’s Empty Vaping Ban Is Peak Massachusetts

BY: Bharani Padmanabhan – Oct. 2019

On September 24, 2019 Governor Charlie Baker suddenly declared a public health emergency and invoked MGL chapter 17 § 2A, which allows the Public Health Commissioner to “during such period of emergency, take such action and incur such liabilities as he may deem necessary to assure the maintenance of public health and the prevention of disease. The commissioner, with the approval of the public health council, may establish procedures to be followed during such emergency to insure the continuation of essential public health services and the enforcement of the same.”

The Public Health Council immediately rubber-stamped the Governor’s desire to be the first in the nation to ban the sale of legal e-cigarettes to the public, as the procedure “to be followed during such emergency to insure the continuation of essential public health services and the enforcement of the same.”

Predictably, in a classic example of pedophrasty, mainstream media and the Massachusetts Medical Society immediately parroted the official narrative of a huge epidemic of life-threatening disease in Massachusetts youths due to vaping, which surely justified Charlie’s ban.

What was not as widely reported was the Commissioner’s Standing Order, allegedly pursuant to lawful authority granted by MGL chapter 17 § 2A, that declared Over The Counter nicotine gums and patches to be treated as lawfully prescribed to people who had instantly lost access to legal e-cigarettes.

This Standing Order is a prescription issued to all persons and pharmacies. And why a prescription for OTC products? Because that way you can get the OTC gums and patches paid for by insurance companies.

If you had been vaping because nicotine gums and patches had not helped you in the twenty years they have been on the market for anyone with cash, now Charlie has granted, allegedly pursuant to MGL chapter 17 § 2A, a giant giveaway to GlaxoSmithKline, by banning vaping and allowing insurance to pay for GSK’s Nicorette gum, to entice you back.

To have your major competitors banned by the Governor, who then encourages pharmacies to bill insurance for your OTC cash product, is a crony-capitalist dream. If only I held GSK stock, I would be in head-clutching ecstasy.

But here is a massive problem. Unlike this alleged vaping lung disease epidemic, we have a real crisis here in Massachusetts, a “Deaths of Despair” crisis that leads to illegal fentanyl overdoses that has killed hundreds of Massachusetts persons, unlike e-cigarettes which have killed precisely zero Massachusetts persons.

People actually interested in saving Massachusetts lives have been crying for a Standing Order for buprenorphine or at least methadone. The scientific evidence is irrefutable that persons addicted to opiates benefit greatly from stress-free prescribed access to medicines that stop them from buying unknown powders from the street, stop them from dying in large numbers. With that Order in place, persons with opiate receptor disease can get their cravings suppressed by safe legitimate medicines and ably build their lives within society. Makes way more sense than a supervised injection room.

Charlie has steadfastly refused to issue that Standing Order, which makes me wonder about his motives. Perhaps, in addition to making GSK happy, Charlie is making nice with the Feds in order to get yet another Medicaid Waiver approved, in a huge giveaway to the powerful hospital lobby.

If Charlie actually cares about lives, the buprenorphine/methadone Standing Order is the one to issue immediately as a Public Health Emergency. I request all “health policy advocates” to make that happen now. Charlie has already opened that door with Nicorette gum for an alleged emergency. If you can’t make that happen in progressive, liberal, woke Massachusetts, where can you?

Bharani Padmanabhan MD PhD treated patients with multiple sclerosis in the Boston area until July 2017 when the state medical board stole his license on behalf of persons who committed Medicare fraud. ◊