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Judge blocks Michigan's ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Posted: 2:41 PM, Oct 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-16 06:52:44-04

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan judge is blocking the state's two-week-old ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday. She says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration's delay in implementing the ban undercut its position that emergency rules were needed.

Stephens also says there is evidence that if flavored vaping products are prohibited, adults will return to using more harmful combustible tobacco products.

The lawsuit was filed by vaping businesses that say they will go out of business due to the ban.

Whitmer has said the ban is necessary to combat an epidemic of teens vaping.

Mark Slis, who operates 906 Vapor in Houghton, filed the lawsuit in Houghton County Circuit Court. It is believed to be the first of what could be several legal challenges against the ban that was announced by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Slis said at least 80% of his inventory is prohibited under the ban, and his business cannot survive without selling flavored vaping products.

“The emergency rules fail to take into consideration the impact banning flavored vapor products will have on the overall Michigan population, including adult former smokers like me,” he wrote in an affidavit attached to the suit, which seeks an injunction. He noted that selling e-cigarettes to minors already is illegal, and that his shop routinely checks the ID of any customer who appears to be under age 30.

The suit contends that the rules are procedurally and substantially invalid, and that officials should not have circumvented the regular rule-making process. Slis say the state cannot prohibit adult use for “an extremely narrow subgroup of the public” and argues that many of the estimated 500,000 users of vaping products in Michigan rely on them to quit smoking tobacco.

Michigan, New York and Rhode Island have recently banned flavored vaping products in response to an explosion in teen vaping in recent years. President Donald Trump said this month that the federal government would act to prohibit thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes because they appeal to underage users.