A newly passed law in Louisiana that was expected to implement a statewide ban on flavored vaping products this month has hit a roadblock. The legislation is now facing a legal challenge from a retailers’ association.
Lawsuit Filed By Retailers Association
The Louisiana Convenience and Vape Store Association filed a petition on November 1 seeking a restraining order and injunction against the vape flavor ban law. No ruling has yet been made, but the lawsuit has prompted the state to delay releasing its list of approved vape products.
The retailers’ group filed suit in East Baton Rouge Parish, naming the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC), its commissioner Ernest Legier, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, and its secretary Kevin Richard as defendants.
Legier stated the ATC would vigorously defend the law, calling it a response to a “vape usage epidemic among Louisiana’s youth.” But the vaping association argues its retail and wholesale business members will face irreparable harm if the ban takes effect.
Vape Ban Would Limit Products Through State Registry
The law, known as Act 414, required Louisiana to create a registry of authorized vape products that could be legally sold in the state. To make the registry, called the V.A.P.E. Directory, products would need FDA approval or meet narrow exceptions favoring items on the market since 2016.
One wholesaler said the law could ban popular disposable flavored vape brands like Puff Bar. The ATC was set to publish the approved registry by November 1 but has delayed its release by 5 days due to the lawsuit.
The vaping association asked the court to prevent the state from releasing the directory, arguing it will ban 80-90% of legal vape inventory.
Association Claims Ban Will Reduce Expected Tax Revenue
In addition to limiting vape products, Act 414 increased taxes on vapes from 5 to 15 cents per milliliter, allocating some new revenue to fund state trooper raises.
The Legislative Fiscal Office estimated the law would generate $9.6 million more in annual vape tax revenue. However, the vaping association contends the product restrictions will shrink the taxable vape market so much that little added funding will materialize.
Their lawsuit alleges Act 414 violates the state constitution by making changes to the original bill that are not germane to the legislation as introduced. Product restrictions were added through an amendment to the precursor bill, HB 635.
The Department of Revenue declined to comment on the accuracy of the association’s tax revenue claims.
Retail Group Seeks To Block Enforcement
The 19th Judicial District Court and Judge Wilson Fields will preside over the case. The vaping association is seeking an injunction to halt enforcement before the state moves ahead with publishing its approved vape product registry.
Revenue Secretary Kevin Richard said his department will “respect the judicial process and will reevaluate collection efforts and enforcement once this matter is resolved.”
For now, the legal challenge has stalled Louisiana’s plans to implement a statewide ban on flavored vape products. The court battle between the state agencies and the retailers’ association could determine the fate of the controversial vaping law.