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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: June 16, 2020
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757
                jebelt@mt.gov
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391, (406) 461-8367
                hcouncil@mt.gov

DPHHS Proposes Rules to Eliminate the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes in Montana

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) filed today a proposed rule notice to eliminate the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in response to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette product use in Montana.

The proposed rule would eliminate the selling, offering for sale, marketing, advertising or otherwise distributing flavored electronic smoking products that target Montana youth.

“This is a serious health issue in Montana that is causing major health consequences for our youth driving a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan said. “I strongly encourage Montanans to participate in this public process by submitting their feedback, thoughts and suggestions on this critical step to protecting the health of Montana’s children from flavored tobacco.”

The proposed rule is posted online here: https://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/rules/37-923pro-arm.pdf

A public hearing will be held via remote conferencing to consider the proposed rules on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 3 p.m. Interested parties wanting to provide public comment are encouraged to participate by calling into the hearing. Call-in information is provided in the rule posting.

Comments can also be submitted in writing to Heidi Clark, DPHHS Office of Legal Affairs, PO Box 4210, Helena, MT, 59604; fax (406) 444-9744; or email dphhslegal@mt.gov, and must be received no later than 5 p.m. July 24, 2020 when the public comment period ends.

Montana historically has ranked above the national average in youth vaping rates. Nearly 60% of Montana high school students and 30% of middle school students have tried vaping. In 2019, almost one in 10 Montana high school students vaped daily, exposing their brains to the long-term effects of nicotine addiction. This is a 263% increase from 2017.

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. E-cigarettes are available in thousands of youth-appealing flavors, including fruit, candy, mint and menthol. The overwhelming majority of youth e-cigarette users report using flavored products.

This rule would eliminate the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products. The rule, however, does not apply to medical marijuana products sold by licensed providers.

Massachusetts was the first state to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products. New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have restricted the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Over 270 local cities and counties across the country have enacted restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, from Colorado to Minnesota to Massachusetts.  

Earlier this year, the FDA restricted the sale of some flavor in pod-based e-cigarettes, however, the federal policy does not apply to many types of e-cigarettes, like open systems and disposable e-cigarettes, leaving states with the job of taking action to protect kids.

Montana teens use e-cigarettes at twice the national average, and more is being learned about the health effects of vaping. Research has shown that youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to become smokers. 

“The best way never to get addicted to nicotine is not to start,” said DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division Administrator Todd Harwell. “Sadly, most individuals who are currently addicted to nicotine started using these products before the age of 18, and youth are enticed by the flavors.” 

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that can have lasting damaging effects on adolescent brain development since the brain continues to develop until age 25. Nicotine exposure in youth causes long-term structural and functional changes in the brain, can lead to long-lasting effects like lower impulse control and mood disorders, and can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs such as cocaine and meth.