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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lawsuit, Legislation Delay Missoula Vape Ban Enforcement

Woman using a vape device

Missoula’s ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette and vape products is now postponed until May. Enforcement of the first-of-its-kind ban in the state was slated to go into effect Monday, but a legal challenge and pending legislation prompted the city council Monday evening to defer its rollout until May 1.Missoula City Council Rep. Mirtha Becerra, tells MTPR that local officials have little choice but to pay close attention to unfolding legislation in Helena, where lawmakers are considering a bill to prevent local government and health officials – even the state health department - from regulating e-cig and vape merchandise. 

"One of the things that we are contemplating and that I would like to see through, is that we delay the effective date of this ordinance," Becerra said Monday afternoon, before the city council's decision. "It’s by no means something we are giving up on or that we think it should be retracted – public health is an important issue to all of us – but clearly we’ll respond to this in the most effective way possible.”

The Missoula City Council approved the ban on flavored vape products back in November, and it went into effect Monday. But Becerra says the city’s implementation of the ban may be altered. A lawsuit to block the ordinance was filed in Missoula District Court late last week. 

Vape industry advocates pushing-back on the order also include Republican freshman Representative Ron Marshall of Hamilton, who co-owns three vape stores in the state. He’s carrying House Bill 137, which would prevent local health officials from regulating vape products. The bill passed in a House Human Services committee last week.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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