A court decision released on Tuesday allows the Montana Department of Health and Human Services to enforce emergency rules temporarily restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Stacy Campbell, Bureau Chief with Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Todd Harwell, Administrator with the Public Health and safety Division spoke with KGVO News about the ban that is now in effect.

“The flavor restriction applies to all vaping products including THC, nicotine, CBD or anything else you can buy that you can vape,” said Campbell. There can’t be any flavors other than the distinguishing flavors of tobacco or marijuana.”

Campbell said for many years tobacco use among Montana’s youth had been dropping dramatically, until the introduction of vaping products.

“Because youth tobacco use rates have declined greatly over the years, but as soon as vaping products hit the market and began to be widely marketed we have see the youth usage rate climb again, in fact, much higher than we’ve seen with any other product. It’s really scary to watch, because we have an entire generation of youth now in Montana that are addicted to nicotine,” she said.

Harwell said the hope is that the ban will reduce the number of lung injuries and disease in Montana’s youth.

“Simultaneously, there’s this outbreak of EVALI (E-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury) that it might help address that,” said Harwell. “We have had seven cases of that in Montana.”

Harwell looked ahead to how the Montana DPHHS will be able to determine if the 120 day temporary ban will be judged successful.

“The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) conducts a survey each year,” he said. “It’s a random survey of high school and middle school students across the state and it looks at a lot of behavioral risk factors and one of those is tobacco use, and in particular, vaping. So, we will have data to be able to evaluate if the number of kids who use vaping products has declined, and our hypothesis would be yes. And, did the number of kids who are currently using vaping products also decline, so I think we’ll have a number of data points to look at.”

A recent report by the FDA states that 96% of 12 to 17-year-olds who initiated e-cigarette use started with a flavored product, and 70% report the flavors as the reason they use e-cigarettes.


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