Multnomah’s Vape and Flavored Tobacco January 1st Ban Stayed By Appeal Court
Set to take effect on January 1, Multnomah County’s ban on flavored tobacco products has been stayed by the Oregon Court of Appeals, with the ban being held in abeyance for now, pending the outcome of ongoing legal hearings.
A group of tobacco and vaping interests filed a motion on December 20 asking the Court for an emergency stay on the ban as opposing sides will be battling over whether to implement a permanent ban. If the ban had not been stayed, Multnomah County would be the first county in Oregon to ban flavored tobacco. As litigation looms, the current status quo remains and the products are available for sale legitimately.
Concerns from tobacco and vaping groups cited in the application to stay the ban were that their businesses would be forced to close permanently. They would lose their income and several workers would be unemployed if the ban took effect. The pro-flavored tobacco faction argues that the ban will have little effect on access to the products, as customers would simply visit Clackamas County or places in the state of Washington to buy the products. Multnomah would lose the economic benefits but the underlying issues would remain.
The potential permanent and irreparable harm caused by the closure of vape and related stores would- according to the court filings, result in “evisceration of businesses, termination of employees, breach of leases, and substantial lost income.” Conversely, County health officials believe that this ban could reduce preventable deaths and go some way to addressing health issues. Defining flavored products as a gateway to nicotine addiction, the County relies on studies to support its case.
The ordinance- regarded by Kari McFarlan, Tobacco Control and Prevention Program Supervisor as another step to protecting young people from the harms of tobacco and nicotine, may save lives, but at the cost of the livelihoods of others. The House of Pipes, for example, has 7 locations in Multnomah County, and the ban would see their 60 employees unable to feed their families, according to their manager, Angelina Rizhuk.
The parties a gearing up for the court decision, and although a judge ruled against a similar flavored tobacco ban in Washington County in 2022, businesses can stay open while they plan for the possible outcome of the litigation over health and environmental concerns.
After hearing from both sides on the issue, the court will decide whether to extend the ban.