Utah Health Department will create new e-cig rules after judge halts emergency restrictions on flavored vaping products

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, file photo, a woman using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. A Utah judge halted the state Department of Health's emergency rules restricted where flavored e-cigarettes could be purchased. In response, the department said it would draft a new administrative rule through the regular rule-making process. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

The Utah Department of Health announced Friday that it won’t fight a judge’s decision to nix part of the group’s emergency rules restricting what businesses can sell flavored e-cigarette products.

Instead, the department said it has already started the process of creating a replacement administrative rule that could be unveiled before the end of the year. Unlike the emergency rules announced last month, which limited purchases of flavored vape products to only specialty tobacco stores, this mandate would follow the regular rule-making process.

The department said it would solicit stakeholders before drafting the rule, and the public could comment on it once released.

The announcement comes after 3rd District Judge Keith Kelly ruled Monday that the state cannot immediately enact its restrictions on where flavored e-cigarettes are sold.

The health department imposed the emergency rule in response to a drastic increase vaping-related illnesses in Utah.

“The emergency rule was originally intended to be one of public health’s tools for addressing this serious outbreak,” said Ryan Bartlett, spokesman for the health department’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “We’re disappointed we won’t be able to enforce the flavored nicotine elements of the emergency rule, but we will continue to use all other tools at our disposal to help put a stop to this outbreak.”

While the judge’s ruling halted the emergency restrictions on e-cigarette sellers, it left alone the part of the rule that required tobacco retailers to displays signs warning of the danger of vaping THC products.