Legal

MA Vape Sales Ban Triggers Retailer Lawsuits

Walmart Nixes eCigarette Sales

The state of Massachusetts is facing a lawsuit over a new temporary ban on vaping product sales.

The owners of six vape shops are suing the state after Gov. Charlie Baker implemented a four-month sales ban on all vaping products last week, including tobacco and marijuana.

“The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents,” Gov. Baker said at the time, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Behram Agha, one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, owns four vape shops in Massachusetts, all of which are now closed. He calls the ban “devastating,” estimating $72,000 in operating expenses during the shutdown, as well as 11 unpaid employees.

“We’re dependent on sales to run the stores,” he said.

Agha is one of three plaintiffs that filed a lawsuit this past weekend in the U.S. District Court in Boston, accusing the state’s ban of violating the U.S. Constitution and undermining federal regulatory authority. They are asking the court to overturn the ban, as well as award damages, according to their attorney Craig Rourke. He said at least five more plaintiffs may join the suit.

The Vapor Technology Association also plans to sue Massachusetts, Executive Director Tony Abboud said.

“Simply having a reaction by state governments to ban all vaping products or flavors is certainly not going to address what the real issue is,” said Abboud.

Earlier this month,  President Donald Trump revealed plans to outlaw all flavored eCigarettes due to the rise in youth vaping. Health officials have also been conducting probes into hundreds of lung problems linked to the use of eCigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 530 cases of vaping-associated pulmonary illnesses, and there have been eight deaths.

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