Judge refuses to overturn Montana Gov. Bullock’s ban on flavored vapes
Montana District Court Judge Jennifer Lint has rejected a request to overturn the statewide vaping ban imposed in early October by Governor Steve Bullock against all flavored nicotine-based vapor products. The ruling is seen as a bit if a defeat for the vaping community after having successfully winning a temporary restraining order preventing the ban on October 20 from the very same judge. The Tuesday ruling now means that the flavor ban is in full effect as of Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Governor Bullock originally cited the surge in respiratory illnesses allegedly linked to “vaping” as the predominant determining factor behind instituting the statewide emergency order. However, even after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the lung injuries are directly related to the vaping of THC-containing cartridges, the Bullock Administration refused to back down.
“This has always been about protecting our most vulnerable, and we are pleased that the court chose to stand with Montanans and their health, by allowing the emergency rules to go forward,” said the Director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services. This theoretical reasoning contradicts one of Montana’s other vaping-related statutes. The sales and purchases of nicotine-based vapor products to or by minors is illegal. If vapes are already illegal for minors, then why does Gov. Bullock need to ban them for adults?
Judge Lint takes no prisoners in Montana vaping ban ruling
Three Montana vape shops owners joined forces to sue the administration over the legality of such a ban, but Judge Lint did not buy their argument. The plaintiffs claimed that the executive order signed by Bullock was “capricious and arbitrary” and that “irreparable harm” would be caused to their businesses if the flavor ban remains intact. According to the court filings, 65 percent of their business revenues rely directly upon the sale of flavored vapes and e-liquids.
Lint disagreed with the plaintiffs’ argument and stated that vape shops have plenty of legal remedies at their disposal to offset the lost sales. In her ruling document, Judge Lint states, “The health and lives of people who vape, especially minors, are currently threatened by the (vaping-related lung injury) outbreaks and youth’s development is threatened by the easy on-ramp to nicotine addiction provided by flavored vaping liquids.”
The temporary restraining order by Judge Lint was set to expire on Wednesday, and Governor Bullock had publicly promised to enforce the ban whether the judge issued a final ruling before the deadline. Lint issued her decision late Tuesday afternoon, and after pleading from the plaintiffs to at least extend the temporary hold until their businesses could come up with a new game plan, Judge Lint refused. Preventing further harm to the public health is more important than preventing economic harm to vapor-product businesses,” she said in her brief.
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