HEALTH

Judge Rules Vape Shops Can Keep Selling Flavored E-Cigarettes — For Now

Oct 28, 2019, 6:14 AM | Updated: 12:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A judge on Monday ruled in favor of local vape shop owners who filed a lawsuit against the Utah Department of Health.

Judge Keith Kelly granted the plaintiffs an emergency restraining order.

The lawsuit was filed in response to an emergency rule issued by the UDOH that restricted the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid a national outbreak of lung damage linked to vaping. It bans general tobacco retailers from selling flavored vaping products and requires shops to display a sign warning customers of the dangers of vaping unregulated THC products.

“I conclude the health department did not comply with Utah code,” Kelly said.

The emergency restraining order puts a hold on the rule, which went into effect Oct. 21. Vape shops without specialty licenses will now be able to continue selling flavored products until the parties meet again for a preliminary injunction.

“The public health crisis is not related to the products my clients are selling,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Phil Dyer. “If it were, we wouldn’t be here in the first place.”

UDOH released a statement shortly after the judge’s ruling:

We are disappointed in the outcome of today’s hearing. Our top priority is stopping the outbreak of vaping-associated lung injuries, and we believe the emergency rule is one of the tools that can help us achieve that goal.

The plaintiffs who brought this suit represent a small minority of tobacco businesses. Most general tobacco retailers and specialty tobacco shops are already in compliance with the emergency rule and we encourage them to remain so.

We will continue with other efforts to stop this outbreak and to protect the public’s health. However, in accordance with today’s ruling, we will notify local health departments to cease enforcement of the emergency rule for the time being. We look forward to presenting our arguments in future hearings.

The emergency ban would have been in place for 120 days before the state implemented a permanent rule. Vaping retailers said they feared it would mean going out of business.

“We think that this was something that was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction on the state’s end,” said Kevin Henrie, who owns a vape shop but doesn’t have a specialty license. “… A flavor ban means that very few of our customers vape the tobacco flavors. It would essentially turn our customers elsewhere.”

The rule also included mandatory signage be posted at places that sell e-cigarettes giving notice about the dangers of vaping unregulated THC products.

The shop owners who filed the lawsuit contend there is no evidence to suggest flavored e-cigarettes are causing lung damage, pointing instead to the same blackmarket THC products the state’s signs warn consumers about.

“The emergency is over blackmarket THC products, which we agree is a problem, we agree is a health emergency, and we’ve been trying to work with state officials,” said Juan Bravo of VIP Vapors of Orem.

The parties could settle before the preliminary injunction on Nov. 22, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Third District Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Health

A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America(Photo by Mario Tama/Get...
Michael Houck, KSL-TV & Associated Press

Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Utah abortion ban

'We are forced into motherhood'; Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Utah's trigger law banning most abortions in the state.
2 days ago
...
Erin Cox

Faith leaders: Abortion conversation has changed, not religious stances

KSL's Erin Cox spoke one-on-one with some of Utah's most influential faith leaders about how their stances on abortion have not changed, but the conversations surrounding them have.
3 days ago
Authorities stand guard by a fence outside the Supreme Court following Supreme Court's decision to ...
DÁNICA COTO and CARA ANNA Associated Press

US abortion ruling sparks global debate, polarizes activists

The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States has pemboldened abortion opponents around the world, while advocates of abortion rights worry the Supreme Court ruling could threaten recent moves toward legalization in their countries.
3 days ago
FILE: Image of a pregnant woman. (Deseret News, Sara Reid)...
Ashley Moser

Does Utah adequately fund support for women with unwanted pregnancies?

The number one reason Utah women seek an abortion is socioeconomic, according to statistics from the Utah Department of Health. As KSL's Ashley Moser explains, experts say there are policies lawmakers should consider right now to help women financially.
3 days ago
The Utah State Capitol on Friday, March 25 when the Utah House and Senate voted to overturn a veto....
Larry D. Curtis

BREAKING: Abortion now prohibited in Utah

The Utah law prohibiting abortion, with some exceptions, is now part of Utah legal code according to a notice sent from the Utah State Legislature Friday.
3 days ago
FILE - Thousand gather at the Utah State Capitol to support a woman's right to choose. (KSL TV)...
Daniella Rivera

‘It was hastily passed’: Medical, legal experts raise concerns about Utah’s abortion trigger law

Senate Bill 174, passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020, was crafted, in part, to send a message. Now, medical and legal experts are sounding alarm bells about how it will work in practice.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Judge Rules Vape Shops Can Keep Selling Flavored E-Cigarettes — For Now