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Bullock announces temporary ban of flavored e-cigarettes in Montana

The 120-day directive takes effect on Oct. 22
Posted at 3:52 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-08 20:44:00-04

Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday directed the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services to temporarily prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

The ban will take effect on Oct. 22 and last for 120 days, the maximum time allowed by law. The ban includes the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including flavored nicotine, THC, and CBD vaping products, in-store and online. The ban does not require retailers to destroy existing inventory.

The ban on flavored e-cigarettes, which are widely marketed to and used by young people, aims to reduce e-cigarette use while authorities investigate what product or chemical is causing critical illness across the country and develop an evidence-based response.

Two cases were recently confirmed in Montana, including a person in their 20s from Gallatin County and a person in their 30s from Yellowstone County.

Nationwide, it's estimated that 1,080 confirmed and probable cases and 21 deaths linked to e-cigarette use have been identified in 48 states and one U.S. territory. More than half the cases involve patients under 25 years of age.

According to the press release, six other states have taken similar action - Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts. In addition, Utah has passed emergency rules limiting where e-cigarettes can be sold and California’s governor has issued an executive order to increase public awareness and develop warning labels.

The American Vaping Association said in a press release that Bullock's decision is "rash and unfounded," and that Bullock and the health department should expect a legal challenge in court.

The press release states: "This is yet another unfortunate snap decision where regulators have whole-heartedly accepted the rhetoric of the anti-vaping activists who have been using scare tactics instead of science to push for bans. These bans rob the millions of smokers who are trying quit, of their ability to do so, forcing them to turn back to cigarettes. Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians have both estimated vaping to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking. Estimates from John Dunham & Associates indicate that there are more than 50 vapor-focused businesses throughout Montana could be shut down by this senseless ban."

The federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has more information on its website , including this overview:

  • As of Oct. 1, 1,080 lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to CDC from 48 states and 1 U.S. territory.
  • Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states.
  • All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
  • Most patients report a history of using THC-containing products. The latest national and regional findings suggest products containing THC play a role in the outbreak.
  • Approximately 70% of patients are male.
  • Approximately 80% of patients are under 35 years old.
    • 16% of patients are under 18 years old
    • 21% of patients are 18 to 20 years old
  • The specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, remains unknown at this time.
  • No single product or substance has been linked to all lung injury cases.
    • The outbreak is occurring in the context of a dynamic marketplace for e-cigarette, or vaping, products, which may have a mix of ingredients, complex packaging and supply chains, and include potentially illicit substances.
    • Users may not know what is in their e-cigarette or e-liquid solutions. Many of the products and substances can be modified by suppliers or users. They can be obtained from stores, online retailers, from informal sources (e.g. friends, family members), or “off the street.”
  • More information is needed to know whether one or more e-cigarette or vaping products, substances, or brands is responsible for the outbreak.