Danvers Vape Shop Wants to Smoke Charlie Baker in Court

They say the new vape ban is going to drive the shop out of business in days.

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Just two days after Gov. Charlie Baker’s sweeping ban of the sale of all vaping products, the measure is going to court.

The owner of a Danvers smoke shop called Vapor Zone is filing for a preliminary injunction Thursday in an attempt to lift the ban. Because of the ban, the entire inventory of Vapor Zone is now prohibited, so the shop has been closed for business since Tuesday. The owner, Behram Agha, says the ban will put his store out of business in days, leaving his 11 employees out of work.

“This is a life or death matter for my client,” says Craig Rourke, Agha’s attorney.

Baker announced the immediate ban of all e-cigarette and vaping products at a press conference Tuesday. The governor said the objective of this measure is to allow time for medical specialists and the government to investigate the recent explosion of vaping-related lung illnesses across the country, which have afflicted 530 people nationwide and 61 in Massachusetts.

But according to Rourke, it’s not legally permissible for Baker to enforce this sweeping ban. He pointed to a similar case from 2014, in which then-Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency and attempted to ban the sale of the opioid drug Zohydro. In that case, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts granted a preliminary injunction against the ban, based on the idea that the state had jumped to its own conclusion about the drug’s safety, obstructing the mandated charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Like the Patrick administration’s consensus on Zohydro, the Baker administration’s conclusions on vaping are “purely speculative,” Rourke says.

“It’s a manufactured crisis,” he adds.

Public outrage followed the announcement of the ban, with various people claiming that outlawing all e-cigarettes and vaping products would push more users to black market products, which could be even more dangerous, and that it will force those who are using these devices to try to stop smoking to turn back to cigarettes.

Not everyone’s opposed to the ban, though. Attorney General Maura Healey, who has been working ceaselessly for over a year to crack down on flavored tobacco products in an attempt to keep them out of the hands of minors, voiced her support.

“Our office has worked aggressively to address the youth vaping epidemic through investigation, enforcement, and prevention education to help keep these dangerous products from getting into the hands of minors, and to hold companies accountable for knowingly marketing and selling to young people,” Healey said in a statement to MassLive. “I commend Governor Baker for making this public health crisis a priority.”

Rourke is currently in the process of meeting with other small business owners affected by the ban to build his case, and believes a hearing will be scheduled for next week. If all goes as planned, he hopes that to see a positive result by next Friday at the latest.