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Hamilton vape shop owner protests new ban policy

The co-owner of Freedom Vapes is challenging a board of health decision to prohibit electronic nicotine delivery devices in indoor public buildings. Ron Marshall said his establishment isn't selling tobacco products. The board of health last week voted to include the devices in the Indoor Clean Air Act, which prohibits smoking in indoor public buildings.

A Ravalli County Board of Health decision prohibiting e-cigarettes from being used in indoor public places is getting kick back from a Hamilton business.

The co-owner of Freedom Vapes, Ron Marshall, said the new policy was enacted without "public outreach."

The board last week voted to include electronic nicotine delivery devices in the Indoor Clean Air Act. The Act prohibits smoking in indoor public spots.

The products Marshall sells at his store fall under the prohibition. But he is not complying with the local policy.

He said state law says his licensed establishment isn't selling tobacco products.

"Right now," said Marshall, "I'm following state law."

He said his products wean people off tobacco.

He doesn't think his vape products should be prohibited from private public businesses. In bars restaurants and other businesses, he said, the decision should be left up to the property owners.

However, he said, smoking shouldn't be allowed in public places.

Marshall said he is in contact with an attorney and will try either to rescind the prohibition and, if that fails, will consider a lawsuit.

Health board member Roger De Haan told NBC Montana that he would welcome another meeting to hear more from the public. He said the room during last week's meeting was "remarkably empty." But he's not sure the outcome would be that much different.

He said the board received a lot of evidence that vaping is "not benign" and is not a healthy practice in indoor public places.

Ravalli County tobacco prevention specialist Lyndsay Stover said last week that getting the policy passed was one of the best things for public health in our county.


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