SJC to hear Baker vaping ban case

Governor's action challenged as executive overreach

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT has agreed to hear arguments related to Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency ban on vaping products, elevating to the state’s highest court a legal argument brought by the Vapor Technology Association against the administration’s ban.

The SJC will hear arguments in the case during its December sitting, the court announced in an order issued Monday. The governor’s administration must file its brief with the court by Nov. 13, and the plaintiffs and interveners must file theirs by Nov. 25. The arguments are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 9, according to the case’s SJC docket.

The SJC transferred the governor’s appeal of an Oct. 21 Superior Court order denying a stay and requiring the administration to go through the emergency regulation process to keep its ban on the sale of vaping products in place. The governor’s appeal had been pending before the Appeals Court.

Baker said he imposed the ban — it was initially a four-month ban but has been whittled down by the courts to three months — in September to give the federal government time to investigate an outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries around the country, including two deaths and dozens of cases of illness reported in Massachusetts.

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The ban has been challenged as an executive overreach that is causing deep financial harm to small business owners. As part of its regulatory filing, the Baker administration projected that a three-month ban on retail nicotine and marijuana vaping products has the potential to cost private businesses $7 million to $8 million in sales.

The administration is planning a Nov. 22 public hearing on the ban as it works to comply with a court order that it go through the usual emergency regulation process.