Montana Temporarily Bans Flavored e-cigarettes
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana is placing a temporary ban on the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and vaping products in an effort to reduce underage use while officials investigate the cause of the vaping-related deaths and pulmonary illnesses being reported nationwide.
“This is the right thing to do during the outbreak of these illnesses and deaths,” Gov. Steve Bullock said Tuesday. The ban will be in place from Oct. 22 through Feb. 19.
At least 18 people have died and more than 1,000 people have been sickened due to vaping-related illnesses. Two illnesses have been confirmed in Montana, one in Gallatin County and another in Yellowstone County.
Dr. Greg Holzman, the state medical director, said the health department strongly recommends that all Montanans refrain from using any vape products, whether they’re using them for nicotine or the active ingredients in marijuana or hemp.
“For those who have recovered from this illness, we don’t know what the long-term consequences will be,” Holzman said. While the cause of the illnesses hasn’t been confirmed, most of the cases involve marijuana vaping.
Montana’s ban is focused on curtailing use by teens.
“It’s fundamentally frightening that kids are being purposely exposed to these substances by the vaping industry, putting their lives and long-term health at risk,” Bullock said. He noted e-cigarettes come in about 15,000 “flavors like you would probably find at a shaved ice or snow cone stand.”
Nearly 43,000 Montanans between the ages of 12 and 18 have tried vaping products and about 22,000 use them, Bullock said. Almost all of the kids who have tried e-cigarettes started with a flavored e-cigarette and 70% of those who use e-cigarettes say they do so because they like the flavor, according to the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study.
Bullock said he was not asking retailers to destroy products, but to pull them from the shelves.