Another Temporary Flavor Ban Expires
Procrastinating Politics Leads To Regulation Expiration
The United States has faced a wave of flavor bans following an outbreak of lung injuries misattributed to vaping throughout 2019. Despite being exonerated from these injuries by the country’s top public health agencies and officials, strict regulations targeting vaping continue to remain in place throughout much of the country.
In Montana, a temporary ban on all flavored vapor products silently expired as lawmakers failed to create more permanent regulations while it was in effect. The temporary ban was set to expire earlier, but implementation was delayed following a series of legal challenges by the industry.
Proponents of the ban argued that vaping was a public health crisis worthy of immediate action. As a true public health crisis unfolds throughout the world, vape shops within the state have been forced to temporarily shutter after being deemed non-essential amid stay-at-home orders.
The Montana Health Department issued a statement saying it remains concerned over a high rate of vaping by youths in the state and makes unsubstantiated claims regarding coronavirus symptom exacerbation. While still deeming vaping a public health issue, the Health Department currently has no plans to introduce additional regulations at this time.
Expired Flavor Ban
Montana’s temporary flavor ban officially expired on April 15th, but confusion over implementation of the ban led to some retailers restarting sales of flavored vapor products back in February. The ban covered all flavored vapor, tobacco, and cannabis products, and extended to online sales as well as brick and mortar retailers.
The Administration of Governor Steve Bullock announced a 120-day ban on the sale of flavor vapor products amid an outbreak of misattributed lung injuries throughout the state. While initially declared in October, a series of legal challenges by industry organizations prevented the ban from going into effect until mid-December.
This led to a 55-day difference in opinion between retailers and lawmakers, with some shops deciding to move forward with restarting sales in mid-February despite potential enforcement action. Other retailers throughout the state complied with the regulatory deadline and resumed sales on Wednesday.
Vape shops throughout the state remain largely shuttered following a statewide “stay-home” order that forced retailers deemed non-essential to temporarily shutter. Members of the state’s vaping industry claim hypocrisy in the designation, noting exemptions for liquor stores and convenience stores that sell alcohol and tobacco.
Truth About Vaping
Public health scholars and harm reduction experts alike have continued to caution against various risks and ramifications of flavor bans, especially those enacted amid unfounded hysteria. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of renowned public health experts came together to speak out against blanket bans on vaping, noting there is no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that prohibition may force people back toward tobacco or even the black market.
Despite repeated claims of a so-called teen vaping “epidemic” by both lawmakers and anti-vaping activists, research from the NYU School of Global Public Health discovered that most teens don’t even actually vape. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and that even the few that do are not habitual users.
As noted by these public health scholars, there is a wealth of research highlighting the efficacy of using vaping to aid smoking cessation. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.
Vaping has not only been repeatedly demonstrated to be an effective smoking cessation aid but a reduced harm alternative to tobacco as well. In fact, research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
Future Of Vaping
As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, many small mom-and-pop vape shops are stuck shuttered, with little guidance or reassurance from their elected officials. This comes following a regulatory crackdown and onslaught against the industry that had largely left it in a shattered state throughout much of the country.
Members of the vaping industry and community must band together to highlight the promise and potential of vaping, and the essential service that vape shops provide. Not only is an entire industry in freefall because of the government’s selective and confusion exemptions, but millions of current and former smokers are left without a safe option to help them quit or remain free of tobacco.
What are your thoughts regarding the expiration of Montana’s flavor ban? How do you think the industry will adapt moving forward? Let us know what you think in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest and greatest vaping news!
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