• August 9, 2020

Vapor Flavor Ban Meeting in Montana Set for Thursday

Man blowing smoke out of his mouth and sitting on a rock in front of a lake and mountains
Photo: Dmitrijs Bindemanis | Dreamstime.com

Legislatures in Montana will have a hearing to discuss banning flavors in vapor products tomorrow, July 16. A legislative interim committee voted to object to the rule, though it’s not clear whether that will have any meaning beyond the symbolic, according to a story in the Helena Independent Record.

In June, the state Department of Public Health and Human Services proposed a rule that would ban selling flavored vaping products, saying the flavored products are “targeting youth users and inflicting grievous health effects on Montana’s youth.”

Vape shop owners argue that a ban on the sale of flavored products would seriously harm their bottom line and that the use of tobacco products by those under the age of 21 is already illegal.

In 2019 the state health department issued an emergency rule that banned the sale of flavored vaping products. During the ban, which expired in April, shop owners say their bottom lines suffered dramatically.

A few of those vaping shop owners testified before the state Legislature’s interim Economic Affairs Committee at the end of June, asking that committee to object to the rule. That came after the Legislature’s interim Children, Families, Health and Human Services Committee declined to take any action on the proposed rule, according to the story. The human services committee has rule oversight authority over the health department, not the economic committee.

State Sen. Jason Ellsworth, a Republican from Hamilton, contended that the interim Economic Affairs Committee on which he sits should have a say because of the anticipated business effects if the proposed rule moves forward. The state health department can finalize or change the rule after a public hearing and comment.

Before the committee’s 7-3 vote to object to the rule, several people testified about the harm flavored vaping products pose to children and young teens.