Emily Lawler, MLive.com, Walker, Mich.
Michigan is the first state in the nation to ban flavored nicotine vaping products, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday after directing the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules doing just that.
She made the call after the state’s Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, found youth vaping constitutes a public health emergency, according to a press release.
She directed the department to ban the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in Michigan in stores and online and ban the misleading marketing of products as “clean,” “safe,” or “healthy.” She also directed the Michigan Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute prohibiting the advertisement of vaping products on billboards.
“As governor, my number one priority is keeping our kids safe,” Whitmer said in a press release.
“And right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today. Our kids deserve leaders who are going to fight to protect them. These bold steps will finally put an end to these irresponsible and deceptive practices and protect Michiganders’ public health.”
The emergency rules will be filed in the next few weeks and take immediate effect after that, said Tiffany Brown, a spokesperson for the governor. After the rules are filed, businesses will have 30 days to comply. The emergency rules go into effect for six months, according to a DHHS spokesperson, with a possible 6-month extension.
In her finding, Khaldun cited statistics from the U.S. Surgeon General, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Food and Drug Administration to say the youth use of such products constituted a crisis that warranted emergency rules.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosive increase in the number of Michigan kids exposed to vaping products,” Khaldun said in a press release. “This is a public health crisis. These products can contain harmful chemicals that put our kids’ health at risk. I’m looking forward to working with Governor Whitmer to mitigate these effects and keep our kids healthy.”
The MDHHS is currently investigating reported illness linked to the use of e-cigarettes.
Michigan recently banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in legislation Whitmer said at the time did not go far enough.
The American Heart Association, Michigan Health & Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics Michigan Chapter, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and American Lung Association are among the groups backing the change.
“In recent years, communities across Michigan have seen a significant rise in the use of these products by youth and adults, with little or no knowledge about the long-term effects of their use,” said Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters in a statement.
“Our member hospitals have been asked by schools to specifically focus on prevention of e-cigarette use as they develop their community health priorities, and we believe these executive orders will support those prevention efforts as well as help current users quit.”
The American Vaping Association opposes Whitmer’s move, threatening possible legal action.
“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,” said President Gregory Conley.
“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.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel commended the move, pledging her department’s support in keeping e-cigs out of the hands of kids. Some democratic lawmakers also praised the governor’s actions.
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