Retailers in Montana who plan to sell ecigarettes after the New Year will have to obtain a state license to do so legally. As of January 1, 2016, retailers must be officially licensed and all ecig sales to minors will be banned. Department of Revenue officials said that 1,800 postcards are out in the mail to retailers throughout the state reminding them to obtain an Alternative Nicotine or Vapor Products license this month. Ecig vendors can apply for the license online and renew it annually for only $5.00. There are an unlimited amount of licenses available so every retailer can easily obtain one.
Tim Fox, the Republican Attorney General, along with Diane Sands, a Democratic Senator who acted as a sponsor, put forth Montana Senate Bill 66. A portion of this bill holds this new license requirement. Those who continue to sell ecigs without the proper license will face a $100.00 fine.
“We want to keep things within a manageable arena for public health and safety reason. It’s the same reason that we license tobacco, and that we give you a driver’s license,” remarked Mary Ann Dunwell, a Department of Revenue spokeswoman.
Surprisingly, most of the state’s vape shop owners seem eager to comply with the new requirement. In fact, the bill was partially written by Ron Marshall, owner of Freedom Vapes. He said the licensing requirement is actually a positive step for ecigarettes because it distinguishes them as different from tobacco products.
“It was written so that we could prohibit sales to minors without labeling vapor products as tobacco products,” he explained. “That’s why there is a separate license for tobacco retailers and vape retailers.”
This new requirement is a big deal when you consider that Montana is the only state to legally classify ecigarettes as non-tobacco products. By keeping the two separate, it will only help vapers in the long run by protecting their rights to use ecigarettes in areas where tobacco products have been banned.
Do you think other states should take a similar approach to ecigarette rules? Should ecigs be classified as their own division of products rather than lumping them together with tobacco?