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As Youth Use Rises, MT Proposes Flavored E-Cigarette Ban

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Some 30% of Montana high school-age kids say they currently use e-cigarettes, according to a 2019 survey. (Grispb/Adobe Stock)
Some 30% of Montana high school-age kids say they currently use e-cigarettes, according to a 2019 survey. (Grispb/Adobe Stock)
June 17, 2020

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana has proposed banning the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes as a way to curb the growing number of young people using tobacco.

Applauding Gov. Steve Bullock for his leadership on this issue, Kristin Page-Nei, Montana government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said flavored e-cigarettes act as a gateway for kids.

"Youths say that flavors are the key reason that they use tobacco," she said, "so this is about preventing kids from starting the habit, preventing them from a lifelong addiction to nicotine."

Nearly 60% of Montana teens of high-school age say they've tried e-cigarettes, and 30% say they currently use them, according to the 2019 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey. When Montana proposed a temporary ban on e-cigarettes last year, vaping shops sued, saying they only sell to adults and that a ban would put them out of business.

Page-Nei said ACS CAN wants retailers in the state to go further to prevent youth tobacco use.

"Prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes is a good start," she said, "but we need local communities to remove all flavored tobacco products from their store shelves."

She also cited other ways Montana could stop young people from using tobacco.

"We also need to prohibit e-cigarette use wherever smoking is prohibited, and we need to significantly increase the tax on all tobacco products," she said. "Right now, in Montana, e-cigarettes are not taxed."

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will hold a public meeting on the proposed rule on July 16. The public comment period ends on July 24.

The proposal is online here, and data on Montana youth tobacco use is here.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT