Town Halts Indoor Vaping Ban After Business Owners Fight Back

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Lawmakers in a Montana town are suspending a new restriction on vaping after small business owners protested that it threatened their livelihoods.

The Ravalli County Board of Health voted Friday to halt an indoor public vaping ban in order to give all sides of the community a chance to voice their opinion. The board enacted the restriction on May 9 by amending the city’s Clean Indoor Air Act to include nicotine devices under the definition of a tobacco product, but faced intense blow back for failing to consult with small business owners who said the ban caught them off guard, reported Ravalli Republic.

Ron Marshall, co-owner of Freedom Vapes in Hamilton, Montana, previously said that if he was aware of the impending vote, he “would have been there with bells on.” He says his products are actually getting smokers to ditch their deadly habit, and notes letting customers sample various vapor products in a store is critical to helping them find the right device for quitting.

Without in-store testing where consumers can become familiar with the devices, owners say customers, who tend to be smokers trying to quit, are less likely to stick with vaping. (RELATED: A Majority Of Adult Smokers Now Believe Vaping Is More Hazardous To Their Health Than Cigarettes)

“The owners of the vape store said it would be a detriment to their business if their customers weren’t able to sample these vape juices inside their store,” Jeff Burrows, Ravalli County commissioner and chair of the health board, told the Ravalli Republic. “We want to try to find a common-sense approach. We don’t want to force small businesses out of business, but we shouldn’t have people vaping in places where people don’t want it.”

Lawmakers at the state level previously rejected grouping vapor devices in with tobacco products, but a number of localities have forged ahead with their own public restrictions. The Missoula City Council recently passed a ban on public indoor use of vapor products, rejecting calls to exempt vape shops.

The ban on indoor vaping in public places will be delayed until August. A subcommittee formed by the Ravalli Board of Health is reviewing the town’s options for amending their Clean Indoor Air Act.

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