Michigan becomes first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes today

Posted at 5:04 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 18:17:14-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan has become the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been making a push to get nicotine out of teens hands. She has publicly stated several times the importance of making sure non-traditional nicotine products are not sold to young people.

Back in June, she signed a bill making it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.

The ban will go into effect when the state health department begins issuing rules, which is expected to happen some time in the next 30 days.

She cited a study that showed just last year, 21 percent of American high school students and 5 percent of middle school students — we are talking children as young as 12 – reported having used e-cigarettes or other vape products within a 30-day period.

Governor Whitmer stressed flavored e-cigarettes attract the youth with flavor names like Fruit Loops or Fanta. Her office provided these examples of vaping products marketed towards kids:

She called this a “public health crisis.”

Just last week, the state health department said it’s investigating six cases of e-cigarettes or vaping-associated respiratory illnesses. All six cases were diagnosed in the past two months; all were reported in the Lower Pennisula.

The health department is investigating but hasn’t identified a specific brand or device related to these illnesses.

The Governor's office recently released this statement regarding the ban:

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer took aggressive action to protect Michigan kids from the harmful effects of vaping. These actions include making Michigan the first state in the nation to ban flavored nicotine vaping products.
On June 4 of this year, Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bills 106 and 155, which clarify that it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes and other non-traditional nicotine products to minors. In her signing message to the Legislature, Governor Whitmer criticized the legislation for not going far enough to protect Michigan’s kids from nicotine addiction, calling the marketing, packaging, and taste of e-cigarettes a “bait-and-switch” engineered to “create new nicotine addicts.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel praised Whitmer's ban calling it a "bold move" by declaring a "public health emergency and putting in place emergency rules that ban flavors in nicotine vaping products to better protect the state's children from addiction:

"With a more than 1.5 million increase in the number of students using vaping products in just one year, the governor's emergency actions today are exactly the bold measures we must take to protect Michigan's children from the dangerous effects of vaping.
"I commend the governor's decision and pledge my department's continued and shared commitment to keeping these products out of the hands of our kids."

Gregory Conley, the President of the American Vaping Association, released this statement:

“This shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition will close down several hundred Michigan small businesses and could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes. These businesses and their customers will not go down without a fight. We look forward to supporting the lawsuits that now appear necessary to protect the right of adults to access these harm reduction products.”

“In this country, laws are made by legislators, not governors desperate for press attention. Anyone who fears the prospect of an out of control government should be appalled by this attempt by the executive branch to unilaterally ban an adult product. Even more absurd, this ban attempt is coming just months after the Michigan Legislature wisely prohibited sales of vaping products to minors.

“Governor Whitmer’s ban will create a massive, multi-million dollar black market for these products, which are the same conditions that led to the recent spate of lung illnesses that are now clearly linked to illegal THC vaping products. The CDC is now specifically warning against vaping homemade vaping products, yet this is the exact kind of behavior that a state-instituted flavor ban will lead to.

Last year, the New York State Department of Health attempted to enact a flavor ban for vaping products without the approval of the New York state legislators. It only took a few days for the state to recognize they lacked the legal authority to do so and pull the proposed rule. The same should happen in Michigan, but with Governor Whitmer personally delivering today’s message of prohibition, it looks like it will be up to the courts and state legislators to take corrective action.”