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I am hoping someone can help me understand what is going on in Helena at the 2021 legislative session.

House Bill 137 and House Bill 106 were introduced by Republican Ron Marshall from Hamilton who, along with his wife, owns a chain of retail vape shops. HB 137 would prohibit local governments and the state public health department from regulating flavored vapor products. HB 106 would prohibit expansion of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act and essentially allow vaping in public areas where it is now prohibited.

Both of these bills highly favor the tobacco industry with no regard to the dangers it poses to young Montanans and to our overall public health. Aren’t we still in the middle of a global pandemic from a deadly respiratory illness? Other than increasing sales for Big Tobacco, (and local vape shop owners) why would our legislators think this is a good idea? Shouldn’t our priority be on all the ways we can help keep Montanans healthy?

While some people addicted to tobacco may benefit from these alternative products, the real targets, as we know, are young, new consumers. I am appalled that my newly elected Rep. Jane Gillette has voted in support of these bills. HB 137 has now passed out of the House to the Senate with her blessing.

Why would we want to roll back laws that were in place to limit the reach of these highly addictive and dangerous flavored tobacco products? Please join me in reaching out to your representatives in Montana’s House and Senate to say no to HB 137 and HB 106.

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Jackie Robin

Gallatin Gateway