The Montana Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that it will begin enforcing ‘emergency rules’ that will temporarily restrict the sales of flavored e-cigarettes starting on Wednesday, December 18.

Raph Graybill, Chief Legal Counsel for Governor Steve Bullock made the announcement.

“Due to the increase in illness, injury and deaths throughout Montana and the country due to flavored vaping products, in October we issued emergency rules that would temporarily restrict those products that are marketed towards young people,” said Graybill. “A judge then issued a 10 day restraining order followed by a hearing about six weeks ago. Even though the restraining order has been lifted, we respected the court order, however, there are still too many young people in Montana who are getting addicted to these products, as well as five new cases of vaping-related injuries since the ban was first announced.”

Graybill explained the court order that was issued on Friday in Helena District Court.

“We filed a notice in court today saying that we are going to go ahead and enforce that temporary flavor restriction on e-cigarettes starting next week,” he said. “As of Wednesday the 18th if you are 18 or older you can still buy non-flavored vape products, or tobacco-flavored vape products, but you won’t be able to buy products that we’ve found are primarily targeted toward kids. Flavors like cotton candy or slammin’ watermelon, the kind of flavors that are showing up at high schools across our state. Starting on Wednesday, vape store owners will temporarily remove those from their shelves. It is only for 120 days and that will give public health officials to learn more about the source of these injuries and it will also give the Food and Drug Administration to make a decision about whether these products are legal and safe to sell in the United States.”

Graybill acknowledged the powerful e-cigarette lobby and their efforts to thwart the ban, but said there are certain facts that must be faced about flavored e-cigarettes.

“We know that about 60 percent of high schoolers in Montana have tried vaping,” he said. “We know that about 30 percent of middle schoolers have tried vaping, and we know that about 2,000 people across the country have been injured and 40 or so have been killed through the use of these products. The public expects its governmental agencies to protect the health and safety of the people in Montana and that’s what we respond to, not lobbying by industry.”

DPHHS also added the following statement in its press release:

Research shows that kids who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future than kids who do not use e-cigarettes. Nicotine exposure in youth causes long-term structural and functional changes in the brain, can lead to long-lasting effects like lower impulse control and mood disorders, and can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs such as cocaine and meth.’