HELENA — The Montana health department decided Friday to withdraw a proposed rule that would ban flavored vaping products in the state.
The decision came after 13 state senators and seven representatives, all Republicans, signed letters last month opposing the rule and stating that the health department does not have the authority to implement such a ban.
Montana law dictates that a poll of the entire Legislature is required when 20 or more legislators object to a proposed administrative rule.
Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Sheila Hogan said the decision to poll the Legislature “revealed that additional education and collaboration is necessary to protect Montana’s next generation.”
Hogan spoke in favor of the ban during a special meeting Wednesday of the Children, Families, Health and Human Services Interim Committee.
She referred to a recent study by Stanford University researchers that linked vaping with a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 in young people. The research found that youth who used vaping products were five to seven times more likely to be infected with the respiratory virus than those who did not use e-cigarettes.
Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, was one of the 20 legislators who opposed the rule. He said during the committee hearing that the health department was “circumventing the legislative process by trying to create law within rule.”
Sue O’Connell, a legislative research analyst, said none of the survey ballots had been mailed to legislators as of Friday, and the poll would likely be canceled once the health department formally withdraw the rule.
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