Flavored Vaping Product Ban Proposed By Montana Officials

Montana’s proposed permanent ban does not apply to medical marijuana products

Montana’s health department is proposing a permanent ban on the sale of flavored vaping products in response to increasing youth e-cigarette use, the agency said Tuesday.

“This is a serious health issue in Montana that is causing major health consequences for our youth, driving a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” Sheila Hogan, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Montana teens use e-cigarettes at twice the national average, the agency said, and research has shown that youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to become smokers than those who do not vape.

Nearly 60% of Montana high school students and 30% of middle school students have tried vaping, according to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Office of Public Instruction. In 2019, one in 10 high school students vaped daily, the survey found.

An estimated 22,500 Montana middle and high school students currently use vaping products, the health department said in supporting the ban.

“Sadly, most individuals who are currently addicted to nicotine started using these products before the age of 18, and youth are enticed by the flavors,” Todd Harwell, the health department’s Safety Division administrator, said in a statement.

The department has the authority to adopt and enforce rules regarding public health issues. The agency will take public comments on the proposed rule during a virtual hearing on July 16, as well as by mail, fax or email through July 24.

Montana proposed a temporary ban on the sale of e-cigarettes last October, when an outbreak of lung illness was tied to some vaping products. Research indicated an additive used in vaping products that contained the active ingredient in marijuana and were sold on the street or online caused lung damage and in some cases, death.

Vaping shops sued to block the temporary ban, arguing that the shops sell only to adults, some of who were using flavored tobacco products to help them quit smoking. The shops said the ban would put them out of business.

A judge in December upheld the 120-day ban, which was in place through mid-April.

Officials with the Montana Smoke Free Association, whose members are vape shops, did not immediately respond to Facebook message seeking comment.

Montana’s proposed permanent ban does not apply to medical marijuana products sold by licensed providers, the state said.

Massachusetts has restricted the sale of all flavored tobacco products while other states, counties and cities have enacted restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration restricted the sale of flavor in pod-based e-cigarettes, but the federal policy does not apply to disposable e-cigarettes and open systems.

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