Montana lawmakers reverse decision to ban flavored vapes

The Montana State Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is reversing its earlier decision to implement a legislative proposal from late 2019 to ban the sales of all flavored vape products.  In late October 2019, Montana became the fourth state in the nation to place a temporary halt on flavored vapes sales after extreme political pressure from Governor Steve Bullock (D).

Bullock told state health officials that cases of a strange, new lung disorder - later to be named EVALI by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – were escalating throughout the state at an “alarming rate.”  The respiratory injuries were apparently striking the teen vaping community in the largest percentages, and Montana had reported its first death allegedly due to EVALI in mid-October.

Related Article:   Montana becomes 4th state to temporarily halt vape ban; Will Massachusetts be next?

However, the fear and hysteria over the so-called teen vaping crisis were soon proven to be somewhat of a hoax.  After a months-long investigation, the CDC would be forced to acknowledge in February 2020 that nicotine-based vapes were in no way connected to EVALI whatsoever.  A CDC press release stated the following on February 25, 2020.

“Due to continued declines in new EVALI cases since September 2019, and the identification of vitamin E acetate as a primary cause of EVALI, today’s release is the final biweekly CDC update on the number of hospitalized EVALI cases and deaths nationally. CDC will continue to provide assistance to states, as needed, related to EVALI and will provide future updates as needed at: www.cdc.gov/lunginjury.”

While a total of 68 deaths would be attributed to the respiratory injuries, medical experts had already determined that the uptick in diagnoses were directly linked to the use of contraband THC-containing cartridges illegally laced with Vitamin E Acetate. Yet, Governor Bullock did not publicly change his mind on the need for a statewide flavor ban.

20 lawmakers write to Montana DPHHS over vape ban

When the 120-day ban was originally issued in October of last year, the owners of three Montana vapor stores joined forces to file a lawsuit. In their court document filings, the lawyers for the plaintiffs called Bullock’s anti-vaping ban “capricious and arbitrary.”  By Christmas, Montana District Court Judge Jennifer Lint has rejected the plaintiffs’ request and sided with the governor.

As the temporary ban came to an end four months later, the time had come for the DPHHS to decide whether to make the ban permanent.  A state legislative interim committee was assigned the task of reviewing the new proposal. 

Related Article:   Judge refuses to overturn Montana Gov. Bullock’s ban on flavored vapes

After 20 different lawmakers wrote a letter to the committee requesting that a poll be taken of members of both houses of the state congress to determine the numbers in support of a vaping ban versus the numbers opposed, the DPHHS abrupted curbed the idea altogether, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronical. 

“The anticipated polling of the Legislature revealed that additional education and collaboration is necessary to protect Montana’s next generation, in spite of the latest study which came out this week showing that teens and young adults who vape are five times more likely to become infected with coronavirus than those who don’t…“DPHHS will continue to work with partners, including the legislature, to protect the health of Montana’s greatest asset – its kids.”

By claiming that “additional education and collaboration is necessary” before any potential vape ban can occur statewide, vapers in the state of Montana appear safe – for now.  But a similar legislative proposal of doom is sitting on the desk of Democrat Nancy Pelosi, a bill that attempts to ban the delivery of vapor products through the United States Postal Service.  The bill has already passed the Senate, and if approved by the House, it will travel to President Trump where he may or may not sign the bill into law. 

Related Article:  Call to action: Congress set to vote on bill to ban vapes-by-mail

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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