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Montana's Temporary Vape Ban Has Expired

Vaping device
Vaping device

Montana’s temporary ban on flavored e-cigarette products officially ended Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean it’s back to business as usual for vape retailers.

The long and bitter dispute between Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration and vape store owners started last October.

That’s when the administration announced its 120-day ban on the sale of flavored vape products. The state argued vaping was a public health crisis. The state health department said the rule was needed due to the rise in youth use of the products and the growth of vape-related lung injuries. Retailers disagreed and unsuccessfully challenged the ban, which went into effect in mid-December.

Some retailers and the Bullock administration couldn’t even agree on the ban’s effective end date. A 55-day difference of opinion resulted in about 15 members of a Montana vape industry group resuming sales of flavored products in mid-February. Other shops, however, adhered to the state’s deadline and resumed sales this Wednesday.

But now a historic pandemic has swept over the world.

According to the Missoula City County Public health department, vape and tobacco shops are now deemed non-essential businesses, meaning they are prohibited, with few exceptions, from providing delivery or curbside services.

But vape store owners point out convenience stores remain open and are selling cigarettes.

The Montana Health Department Wednesday issued a statement saying it continues to be concerned about the high rate of youth use of e-cigarette products. The agency says people who smoke or vape may be more at risk of experiencing severe illness from COVID-19

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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