As Montana counties struggle on how to deal with vaping in public spaces those that sell vaping products are concerned their rights are being trampled. Ron Marshall and his wife are the owners of Freedom Vapes, which has locations in Hamilton, Bozeman and Belgrade. Marshall says efforts in Ravalli and Gallatin County to prohibit vaping indoors were passed this year without the proper notice required under Montana Code.

“30 days and it must be published in a newspaper and it has to be put out,” Marshall said. “People don’t understand that. When an ordinance, policy or something like this is going to come up, they have to allow the people, the residents of the city or the county, opportune time to get ready to go to those meetings. A lot of those boards don’t put the proper notice of time out there and they don’t give you 30 days.”

Ron says in Ravalli County and Gallatin County notice of public meetings to change vaping regulations were issued within a week of the meeting date and that statewide restrictions on indoor smoking that were designed for tobacco products under the Montana Indoor Clean Air Act are being forced on vaping at the county level.

“Montana statute is very clear,” Marshall said. “A county can’t change Montana statute. That has to be done at the state level. Counties don’t have the authority to change that. They can put in a policy, but if the policy is violated you can’t charge me under state law. They are two separate things. If I am within the state law, how can you charge me?”

Marshall says he has attorneys investigating at the issue and is currently looking at how to appeal to the Board of Health in Gallatin County after successfully doing so in Ravalli. He says if they refuse the appeal, the case will likely end up in District Court and could end up being a federal case.

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