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The owner of two vaping stores in Portland, Oregon, US, is asking a judge to throw out a state list of banned words and pictures on vaping liquid packages, according to a story by Aimee Green at oregonlive.com.
Paul Bates says the state’s “ridiculous” rules defy logic. For instance, he says in his lawsuit that the packages can’t use the words ‘apple or ‘strawberry’ even to describe the apple- or strawberry-infused liquids he sells for use with electronic cigarettes.
The same goes for pictures of apples or strawberries.
Employees at his Division Vapor stores in Southeast and Northeast Portland use white stickers to cover images on the labels that don’t comply with state rules, and that amounts to censorship and a violation of free speech, the suit contends.
“The new rules are just mind-boggling,” Bates reportedly told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Wednesday.
His suit lists the Oregon Health Authority, which is responsible for creating the banned list, as a defendant. Delia Hernandez, a spokeswoman for the agency, declined comment because of the pending litigation.
Hernandez, however, said the recent packaging rules were sparked by concern from the state lawmakers, who passed a law in 2015 requiring that packaging not be attractive to children.
In response, the Oregon Health Authority adopted a rule that said vaping liquid labels can’t depict images that might be appealing to minors – including those of “celebrities, athletes, mascots, fictitious characters” or “food or beverages likely to appeal to minors such as candy, desserts, soda, food or beverages with sweet flavors including fruit or alcohol”. This year, health officials added words, such as “tart, tangy, sweet, cool, fire, ice” and the names of fruits.
Bates, who buys his entire inventory from other companies that mostly don’t comply with Oregon regulations, said the health authority hadn’t forced him to follow the latest rules – yet.
The suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Beaverton attorney Herbert Grey is representing Bates