MISSOULA — The City of Missoula’s flavored vaping ban was to be enacted on Monday, Jan. 25, but the city received a lawsuit earlier in the day cautioning otherwise.
During Monday night’s City Council meeting, Mayor John Engen said the adopted ordinance will begin, if at all, on May 1 to potentially avoid the cost of a lawsuit.
“We have an opportunity to rack up some legal bills here to no good end,” Engen said. “And we would like to stipulate as a function of that loss that we will not enforce provisions of that ordinance until May 1.”
Engen said that with HB137, a Republican bill that would render Missoula’s ban null and currently going through the Montana Legislature, the delay of the ordinance going into effect is meant to let them see how the bill develops.
It was a decision the city’s mayor came to after discussions with City Attorney Jim Nugent, Chief Administrative Officer Dale Bickell, and members of the City Council.
“That should provide opportunity for the Legislature to do its thing,” Engen said. “We’ll have a much better sense of what’s afoot, and not require plaintiffs and attorneys to engage an injunction or take other actions that are likely to incur more fees and increased liability for the city.”
Engen said that based on his conversations with Nugent, he expects the House bill to pass.
The lawsuit against the city was filed by a coalition of vaping businesses and a trade organization, according to City Communications Director Ginny Merriam.
The delay comes as Missoula County commissioners were going to consider the expansion of the flavored vaping ban in a five-mile proximity around city limits on Thursday.