A statewide flavored vaping products ban could potentially go into effect this week, which would mean vaping retailers would only be able to sell tobacco flavored juices.
The State of Montana last week notified the court that it intends to start enforcing the emergency ban this Wednesday, absent any court action. But attorneys for the vape-shop owners who filed a lawsuit to stop the ban asked the presiding judge to extend a temporary order blocking the state from enforcing the ban.
Vaping retailers told MTN News that they’ve been preparing for the ban, which they say will have a huge effect on their businesses and customers.
“It’s though,” said Monica Schultz, owner of Queen’s Palace. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen with the current status of things legally.”
Queen’s Palace, located off Last Chance Gulch in Helena, sees hundreds of customers each week. The store saw an influx of customers on Monday coming in to stock up on their vaping products, worried that it won’t be there after Wednesday.
The ban will not require owners to destroy their existing inventory, but many products have best by dates before the 120-day ban is over. “It’s going to be a huge loss in our income,” said Schultz. “But we’re not closing, we’ll still be here.”
Schultz opened Queen’s Palace a year ago with the intent of helping others quit smoking traditional cigarettes. She told MTN she’s worried about her customers returning to their previous unhealthy habits.
“Having to quit [vaping] is going to be a huge thing for a lot of different people,” explained Schultz. “It’s helped them get off of cigarettes into a more healthy alternative and eventually they can cut back and stop. I smoked for 25 years. It’s the one thing that got me to stop, and it wasn’t the tobacco flavored cause that’s the first thing I tried.”
Queen’s Palace customer Dallas Davis smoked two packs a day for 15 years. He wanted to quit tobacco for his kids and vaping was the only thing that worked.
“I never smoked in the house, but they knew, and they hated it,” said Davis. “Vaping has changed my relationship with my children because there isn’t that smell or bad breath that comes with smoking. I talk to my kids about what vaping is and addiction, and they’ve never once wanted to or asked to use my vape.”
The State reasoning for the ban is due to the proportions of youth addiction to flavors as well as the short- and long-term injuries from e-cigarette use.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reports nearly 60% of Montana high school students and 30% of middle school students have tried vaping. Seven cases, including one death, of E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) have been documented in Montana.
The CDC has cautioned specifically against THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online sellers.
Schultz says she only buys from reputable companies, makes sure to check every person’s ID that wants to buy and her shop doesn’t sell Juul products.
“I have a pretty strict set of morals. I want people to have better lives and I’d rather have people vape than smoke because we know smoking causes cancer and it’s highly addictive,” said Schultz.