AP NEWS

Montana county to rely on vape shops’ cooperation with ban

December 19, 2019 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — At least one Montana county plans to rely mainly on vape shops’ voluntary compliance to enforce the state’s new ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Missoula County City/County Health Department Director Ellen Leahy told Montana Public Radio that health officials don’t plan to inspect all 195 places in the county that are under the 120-day ban that took effect Wednesday.

Vape shop owners will have time to reorganize their stores and regulators will rely on their cooperation, Leahy said.

There will be spot checks of businesses, and officials will respond to complaints of violations, she said. But regulators will not send minors into stores to test if the owners are complying.

“There will be no sting operations whatsoever,” Leahy said.

A Hamilton judge cleared the way for the emergency ban by ruling against vape shop owners who had sued to keep their products on their shelves. The ban is necessary because people’s health is threatened by an outbreak of lung illnesses tied to some vaping products and flavored e-cigarettes are making it easy for kids to become addicted to nicotine, District Judge Jennifer Lint said in her ruling Tuesday.

Gov. Steve Bullock Chief Legal Counsel, Raph Graybill, said he anticipates the shop owners will appeal the judge’s ruling..

Ron and Deanna Marshall, owners of one of the businesses that sued, Freedom Vapes, did not return a message left at their Hamilton store.