And so it begins: Vermont officially bans online vape sales

Last March, the collective eyes of the vaping advocacy community were tightly focused on the soon-to-be departing Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb.  His years of antagonistic rhetoric included relentless allegations that teen vaping was escalating to such an alarming rate that it should now be deemed a national “epidemic.”

When vapor companies like Juul and Altria appeared to be growing increasingly unfazed by his attacks, Gottlieb kicked things up a notch.  During his final months in office, the now-former FDA Chief threatened to ban the sales of all flavored e-liquids nationwide.  When that didn’t seem to attract much attention, he then threatened to ban online sales of vaping products, too– and the ban could potentially include a whole lot more than just flavored vapes. 

While vaping enthusiasts around the country either ignored of shrugged off Gottlieb’s latest rantings, lawmakers in the Green Mountain State immediately took notice.  If the FDA can legally ban online sales of vaping products at the federal level, why can’t the state legislature of Vermont do something similar statewide?

Vermont Bill H.26: Restricting the Internet sales of Electronic cigarettes  

The campaign to abolish online vaping sales would lead to the creation of Vermont Bill H.26, “An act relating to restricting retail and Internet sales of electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, and tobacco paraphernalia in Vermont.” Co-sponsored by two democrats, Rep. George Till and Rep. Martin LaLonde, the proposal was initially read into the congressional record on March 12, 2019.  The very next day, it was passed by the state’s House of Representatives.

The Vermont Senate would take a bit longer but would officially move the anti-vaping bill forward with a 30-0 majority vote on April 30.  A mere two-weeks after that, Governor Scott signed H.26 into law. 

Several vaping advocacy groups attempted quite aggressively to stop the bill’s passage along the way, but the expedited approval process was a considerable obstacle.  The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) fought on behalf of Vermont vapers by carefully pointing out to lawmakers that their state has very few local vape shops currently in existence.

Related Article:  Vermont vape shop fined $50k for advertising ‘virtues of e-cigarettes;’ Closing imminent

Because Vermont is largely rural with only a few medium-sized cities, the majority of the Vermont vaping community would be immediately and adversely affected by the banning of online vape sales.  Without a viable and legal method to purchase vapor products, vapers across the state would be overwhelmingly tempted to relapse back into smoking.

But CASSA’s efforts were for naught.  On May 16, 2019, Governor Scott signed H.26 into law. 

In today’s world of tribal politics, many vapers might want to know which party – Republicans or Democrats -  is to blame for this diabolical turn of events.  The answer may be surprising.

Vermont has a Democratic majority in both houses of its state congress, but a Republican resides in the governor’s house.   This bipartisan arrangement means that politicians from both sides of the aisle must agree – for the most part – on the fundamentals of any legislative proposal.  Therefore, both political parties appear to be equally to blame for the passage of Vermont Bill H.26.  Look for a version of the bill to pop up in a state near you.

Related Article:  Vermont's 92% vaping tax sends shockwaves

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