Judge denies attorneys' request for temporary pause in vaping ban

BOSTON — Two lawsuits heard in Federal court on Friday morning that challenged Governor Charlie Baker's four-month ban on the sale of vaping products were denied.

The attorneys for the two lawsuits were denied a temporary pause on the ban, but will get a full hearing on whether that is needed.

The first lawsuit was brought by three local shop owners who say the ban will shut them down if it stands. A second lawsuit out of Washington, D.C. is being filed by Vapor Technology Association, a national, non-profit industry trade association of nicotine-vapor-products.

Store owners behind the lawsuits say they are hurting, and that many will lose their businesses before the temporary ban is over.

Linda and Jeffery Vick, owners of Vick's Vape Shop, remained closed on what would have been a busy Friday, and were hoping the emergency federal hearing would have helped them

"We would have reopened today," said Linda. "How long we can last? I honestly don't know. It's not that we can't pay the rent. We have some savings but we also have a child with disabilities and medical bills and all these other bills that go along with it."

Lawyers argued that the ban is unconstitutional because there was no way for owners to have their say during a public hearing. The lawsuit also claims that 21+ shops are selling products that are safe and have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

Attorneys were trying to get the judge to put a timeout on the ban until they could schedule a full hearing. The judge said no to pausing the ban right now, but is allowing a full hearing on that question.

"You don't know how mad I am. I built this business for my son and it is [expletive]. I thought we live in America where we have rights," said Jeffrey Vick.

Jeffrey walked out of federal court very upset. He and his wife Linda are hoping their family business would be back open after their attorney asked the judge to pause the ban.

On October 15, the judge will hear the full motion to put a pause on the ban until the legal cases are resolved.

"What we were looking for today is to have the shops immediately re-opened until we could have a bigger hearing, and the judge gave us that bigger hearing," said Craig O'Rourke, one of the attorneys representing vape show owners. "I don't think he really gave full thought or fair consideration to the impact that it has actually going to have on children and on parents and families."

When Baker announced his ban it applied to both online and retail sales, and affected displays and advertising of vaping products online and in store. But yesterday the state amended its declaration, allowing online sales to out-of-state customers and online displays.

Document: Oct. 3, 2019 implementation order for retail stores

To date across the country, at least 18 people have died of vaping-related illnesses and more than 1,000 have been injured.

On Thursday, nearly 100 people who use and sell vaping products rallied outside the State House calling for Baker to lift his ban.

"A vape ban is completely ridiculous in my eyes," said Stacey Martinson, who vapes and doesn't agree with the ban. "I understand there's illnesses, but to ban it is going to contain a large black market, and you'll have more youths getting sick."

"We worked so hard to get rid of cigarettes [and] now we are trying to get rid of another error of cigarettes, just a different version," said Hunter Berube, who is in favor of the vaping ban.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has hundreds of people trying to determine what specific chemical exposures are causing lung injuries.

Baker says the ban will stay in place until they receive more information from the CDC.

In New York on Thursday, people in favor of vaping got a win when a judge granted a delay on a flavored e-cigarette ban.

Linda says she's completely in favor of making the industry safer but says she would've preferred the state gave her more notice before putting the ban in place.

"We would have enough time to sit down and decide what is going to happen next," said Linda.

One clarification in today's hearing was that vape shop owners are allowed to sell their vaping products online to people who live out of state, but many say their business is local.

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