The 2021 legislative session started earlier this month, and we are already seeing some troubling bills being introduced. We believe the ability for communities to be able to take action when it comes to certain health issues is crucial to their ability to build healthier lives. Legislation which would take away the ability of communities to regulate tobacco and vape products (HB 137) has been introduced and despite our attempts to stop it in the House Human Services Committee we were unsuccessful. Thank you to those of you who took action on our alert, it was a fairly close vote 11-8. While it was very discouraging to see it pass out of committee we have not given up on stopping this dangerous piece of legislation.
Montana has a long proud history of letting local officials make decisions because they know their communities better than anyone else. This bill would take that power away from them and put it in the hands of legislators in Helena who are often influenced by the tobacco industry. Further, this bill would slow down and possibly reverse efforts to end the crisis of youth tobacco use in Montana caused by e-cigarettes. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of Montana youth who used e-cigarettes frequently increased by 243 percent.
Although we couldn't stop it in the earlier committee we will keep trying. Please keep an eye out for emails from us on the issue as we will be in touch when the time is right.
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