Gallatin County is the latest to join a growing list of Montana counties (now numbering 10) that are banning indoor vaping. While it is understandable if these politicians were banning vaping from inside their own buildings, this restriction will apply to vape stores too.
The Gallatin Health Board voted 7 to 2 to include vaping in the county's Clean Indoor Air Act policy. The vote took place on Thursday and was implemented on Friday. Shop owners can now be fined between $25 and $100 for a first transgression, with fines escalating based on the number of offences.
Freedom Vapes run three stores in addition to the online side of the business. They had tried to argue for some common sense, but (thanks to the FOI request) it appears Gallatin officials were running a secret agenda.
Deanna said: “Matt Kelly handed us the Notice for Public Opinion the day we showed up. Our FOIA showed he was working it for months before. He was being deceiving from the beginning.”
“We walked into that meeting with a positive attitude. During that meeting two other Department of Health officials were there. We were trying to talk with them about the benefits of vaping, and how it helps adults quit tobacco. They snickered and laughed as we spoke.”
“Matt said, ‘well as ethical business owners, we would like you to publically announce that because of the children, you agree that vaping should be banned in public’."
“They also handed us a proposed new CIAA act for Gallatin County, with a meeting scheduled just 5 day later.”
“He implied that we are unethical for selling products that he doesn't like. But who is the unethical one? They knew August 1st that the meeting would be held on Sept 27th.”
Deanna added: “I don't like to lose and I will never quit!”
Consequently, the pair are moving to a legal approach and have set up a Go Fund Me page. Having already paid out a fortune in legal costs the couple need help from the wider vaping community.
They write: “As some of you may know, we already fought one county in Montana for trying to include vaping in the clean Indoor air act. There is already a law in Montana (SB66) that states vaping is not a tobacco product. The state of Montana decided NOT to include vaping in the clean Indoor air act.”
“Ravalli County tried to make their own law to include vaping in the act. We fought them and they rescinded the ban. Now, Gallatin County went a step further and DID include vaping in the act. County officials cannot rewrite state laws.”
“We requested a FOIA and found the county to be lying and deceiving. In emails, they've admitted to altering vape juice labels to portray toxicity and refusing help from vape shops to help keep the products out of the hands of children. We are suing Gallatin County because of this. If we win this lawsuit, it will set precedence for the entire nation!”
“The funds donated will go directly to our attorney, Megan S. Winderl of Markette & Chouinard.”
Ron Marshall added some advice: “If you’re a vape shop owner and have had to deal with county and or city health boards demonizing you, hit them with a FOIA request.”
“A freedom of information act request is easy. What you will find may surprise you. Odds are you will also find that the ACS-CAN is more involved with the legislation than you think. Government officials cannot lobby elected officials. Collusion is a crime and violates your rights. Try one today!”
Of the 4000+ double-sided pages Freedom Vapes received, Ron said: “They're trying to portray an image of vaping that is a lie.” Worse, “they colluded, and there's a possible civil rights violation in this.”