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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to hear vaping ban appeals in December

In December, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments related to Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency regulation banning the sale of nicotine vaping products.

Baker’s administration had appealed an Oct. 21 order of the state Superior Court, which had allowed in part and denied in part the motion for a preliminary injunction of the plaintiffs, the Vapor Technology Association, Ian Devine and his company, Devine Enterprises Inc., which would have blocked the administration from enforcing the regulation.

But in a sua sponte order issued Nov. 4, the SJC declared that it would add the matter to its December sitting.

The court said that it would adhere to the briefing schedule that a single judge of the state Appeals Court had ordered, with the defendants’ brief due by Nov. 13, and the brief of the plaintiffs and interveners due by Nov. 25.

The SJC’s order notes the possibility that either party, or another group of vape shop owners, who have intervened in the case, may wish to appeal subsequent Superior Court decisions related to the vaping ban. The SJC said its intention would be to handle all of the various appeals at the same time, if at all possible.

“Recognizing that there may be substantial overlap in the arguments that each side makes in its briefs in the defendants’ appeal and in the plaintiffs’ appeal, the parties should try their best to minimize duplication in the briefs that they file in each appeal,” reads the court’s order, which adds that reply briefs will be permitted only as directed by the court.

In his most recent ruling on the matter on Oct. 30, Superior Court Judge Douglas H. Wilkins denied a motion by vape store owners to block the administration from enforcing its emergency regulation.

Wilkins had previously ordered Baker to amend his vaping product ban in response to the Vapor Technology Association’s lawsuit.

As part of its regulatory filing, the Baker administration projected that a three-month ban on retail nicotine and marijuana vaping products could cost private businesses $7 million to $8 million in sales, State House News Service reported.

While the ban is set to remain in effect until Dec. 24, DPH also told Wilkins that it plans to bring the emergency regulation before the Public Health Council at its Dec. 11 meeting to either adopt it as a permanent regulation or let it lapse on Christmas Eve.

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