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Suits question legality of governor’s vape ban

Federal lawsuits have been filed challenging the emergency four-month ban in Massachusetts on sales of e-cigarette products.

Vapor Technology Association and some of its member retailers filed suit in U.S. District Court on Oct. 1, days after three vape shops sued Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration over a ban that their lawyer said amounts to a “death sentence” for the businesses.

The association’s 20-page complaint argues that Baker’s ban “has shuttered and will irreparably destroy Massachusetts’ $331 million nicotine-vapor-products industry, and the livelihoods of the 2,500 workers that it employs.”

Owners of Mass Dynamics in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Boston Vapor in Salem, New Hampshire, and Vick’s Vape Shop in Medford, Massachusetts, filed a complaint in federal court on Sept. 29 alleging that the ban is unconstitutional and will do irreparable harm to their businesses.

Craig O’Rourke, the attorney in the suit filed in September, told State House News Service that he had heard from several other stores interested in joining the suit. People in the industry are worried they will not be able to cover rent, wages and other expenses, he said, as vape sales have been suspended until Jan. 25.

Massachusetts on Sept. 24 became the first state in the nation to halt sales of all e-cigarette products amid growing concerns over a mysterious lung illness associated with vaping.

Baker, who declared a public health emergency as he suggested the ban, said on Sept. 30 that more than 70 cases had been identified in the Bay State and almost 900 nationwide, but that exact causes remain unclear.

After the first suit was filed, Baker told reporters the administration was prepared for the lawsuit and stood by its actions, seeing a pause as necessary to get a clearer sense of the full risks associated with vaping products.

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