“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 6/17/20
On July 16 the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will join state officials at a remote-conferencing public hearing in discussing e-cigarettes, specifically a ban proposed by the department in response to an “epidemic” of use among Montana teens; you may remember controversy surrounding e-cigarettes was a ubiquitous conversation during the latter months of 2019 and early months of 2020, as it appeared a nation-wide epidemic of use was claiming dozens of young lives. “This is a serious health issue in Montana that is causing major health consequences for our youth driving a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Sheila Hogan said in a news release, adding that Montana residents can offer comments and suggestions via an online portal. According to the Great Falls Tribune, “Kristin Page Nei, the Montana government relations director for ACS CAN, said smoking causes more than 28 percent of all cancer deaths in Montana.” Nei told the outlet teens “will turn to whatever flavored tobacco products are sold, ‘so we need local communities to end the sale of all these flavored products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah, and smokeless chewing tobacco.’” Proponents of e-cigarettes are up in arms. ““I think it is kind of a bad situation for everyone who depends on it to quit smoking cigarettes,” Michael Mattern, owner of Twenty Past Four in Great Falls, a vaping and head shop, told the Tribune. “It’s still a lot cleaner than cigarettes, hands down, and to take that away to profit big tobacco is disgusting.” It should be noted, however, Montana ranked above the national average for youth vaping rates, with 60 percent of Montana’s high school students and 30 percent of middle school students having tried a vape product (twice the national average)—one in 10 Montana high school students vaped daily in 2019.