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Lawsuit, Legislation Could Delay Missoula Vape Ban

The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services says e-cigarette products should "never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products."
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The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services says e-cigarette products should "never be used by youth, young adults, pregnant women, or adults who do not currently use tobacco products."

Missoula’s new ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette and vape products went into effect Monday. The ban, which would be the first of its kind in the state, is facing a legal challenge and legislation that could undermine the rollout of the order.

It’s illegal to sell flavored e-cigarette and vape products in Missoula, but according to one of the ban’s architects, that policy rollout might face a delay.

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 says. "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.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.