Amid rising deaths and illnesses, Montana temporarily bans flavored e-cigarettes

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on Tuesday enacted a 120-day ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, saying that e-cigarettes are a growing epidemic causing harm among today’s teens.

The ban will go into effect Oct. 22 and the 120 days is the maximum time allowed by law. The state is to implement emergency administrative rules to temporarily prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

Bullock said there are 1,080 confirmed cases of pulmonary illness nationwide, including two in Montana, and 21 deaths related to e-cigarette use are in 48 states and one U.S. territory. More than half the cases are patients under 25.

He said nearly 48,000 Montanans between 12 and 18 have tried vaping products. Between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of Montana high school students using the products frequently on 20 or more of the past 30 days has increased by 243%. Daily use has increased 263%.

The emergency rules will be filed Tuesday by the Department of Public Health and Human Services. The ban includes the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including flavored nicotine, THC and CBD vaping products, in-store and online. The ban does not require retailers to destroy their existing inventory, according to a state news release.

Authorities are to investigate what product or chemical is causing critical illness across the country and develop an evidence-based response.

Montana joins six other states who have taken similar action: Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts, state officials said.

In addition, Utah has passed emergency rules limiting where e-cigarettes can be sold, and California’s governor has issued an executive order to increase public awareness and develop warning labels.

The Trump administration said last month that it would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, but has yet to release specifics or commit to a timeline, Bullock’s staff said.

Phil Drake/USA Today