Governor Steve Bullock on Tuesday ordered a temporary stop to sales of flavored e-cigarettes. The emergency rules take effect October 22.
Bullock is directing the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to enforce a 120-day ban on flavored e-cigarette sales.
The uncommon move to issue this kind of emergency health order is prompted by what his administration is calling a “rapidly-developing public health crisis.”
Greg Holzman is the state medical officer with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
“We have an epidemic across the country of youth using these products. And in Montana our numbers are even higher than the national average,” Holzman said.
According to a 2019 survey of highschoolers, the number Montana students who say they use e-cigarettes or vapor products frequently has tripled in the last two years.
The emergency rule taking effect later this month requires store owners to take flavored e-cigarettes off their selves. The rule also applies to the online sale of vapor products intended for delivery to a person living in Montana.
The state health department says it has the authority to make emergency rules when there is “imminent peril to public health” that cannot be averted by the administration in any other way.
The temporary ban only applies to flavored e-cigarettes. But the state health department says unflavored vaping products are also not safe.
According to the rule, "a flavor includes any substance, including mint or menthol, that imparts a taste or smell to a vapor product other than the natural taste or smell that comes from the psychoactive plant component of a nicotine or THC-containing product."
Bullock’s call for an emergency rule lands on the same day health officials in Gallatin County identified Montana’s second confirmed case of vaping-related lung illness.
The Gallatin County case announced Tuesday matches the majority of the nearly 1,100 confirmed and probable cases nationwide of pulmonary illness related to vaping and e-cigarette use, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, no one product has been linked to the illnesses. But most contained THC, the psychoactive compound found in marjuana.
21 people have died from the condition nationwide.
Montana’s temporary ban follows plans by the Trump administration to ban flavored products.
Retailers have legally challenged similar bans in at least one other state.