Utah health department delays emergency e-cigarette rules

(Richard Vogel | AP file photo) In this Saturday, June 8, 2019 photo, two women smoke cannabis vape pens at a party in Los Angeles. In Utah, only tobacco specialty shops will be allowed to sell flavored e-cigarettes, and they will be required to post notices on the dangers of vaping unregulated THC products under emergency rules Utah officials announced Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.

The implementation of an emergency rule that would allow only tobacco specialty shops to sell flavored e-cigarettes — and would require all shops selling e-cigarettes to post signs noting the danger of vaping unregulated THC products — has been pushed back to later in the month.

The Utah Department of Health said Wednesday the rule would go into effect on Monday, but announced Thursday they’d delayed it until Oct. 21 to give retailers, like grocery and convenience stores, time to comply with the rules.

According to a statement from the department, the change comes after health department officials spoke with retail industry representatives.

“Our intent is to work with retailers to help them become compliant, providing them with an additional two weeks to remove flavored e-cigarette products from their shelves moves us in that direction,” the statement read.

The emergency rules were announced Wednesday after health officials reported a drastic increase in the number of vaping-related illness. They said that in one week, the number of confirmed cases in Utah rose from 47 to 71, and that there were 10 more potentials cases under review.

The rules limit flavored e-cigarette sales to specialty tobacco stores, which are regulated and inspected by local health departments. Other stores can continue selling non-flavored e-cigarette products.

Under the new rules, all retailers selling e-cigarette products are required to post notices “regarding the dangers of vaping unregulated THC products." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have said most of the illnesses nationwide have been tied to unregulated THC products — a trend borne out in Utah, although THC products are largely illegal here.

Utah Vapor Business Association told The Salt Lake Tribune after the rule was announced that he supports the health departments warning about the harm of unregulated THC, but said banning flavored products is “absolutely irresponsible.”

“There’s no correlation whatsoever with the THC cartridge injuries and the flavors whatsoever,” Bravo said. “This current rule could potentially put a lot of people out of business.”