DETROIT – Michigan's governor is banning flavored e-cigarette products from in-store and online retail.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she is specifically targeting flavored vaping products that appear to target minors. Examples of those products are pictured above.
"My chief medical officer this week said we have a public health crisis, it's time to take action. So I'm using my executive authority as governor to order the Department of Health and Human Services to ban the flavored e-cigarettes, to restrict advertising and the misleading advertising that they're engaged in, that it's 'healthy' or that it's 'good for you,'" Whitmer said Wednesday morning on MSNBC.
The ban covers both retail and online sales and it will go into effect on Wednesday. It will last for six months and after those six months it can be renewed for another six months, according to the governor's office.
Whitmer said she wants the vaping products to be treated like cigarettes and come with a Surgeon General warning, but she will not wait for the federal government to act.
"It's on the states to take action, and as governor I am going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt it and write it into law," the governor said.
Whitmer said she has teenagers at home and has been talking to them about how prevalent vaping is in their schools.
"They are marketing bubble gum flavor, fruit-loops flavored, they've got one that looks like Mott's apple sauce, implying that it's a healthy alternative to, I suppose, smoking," said Whitmer. "The fact of the matter is, every time our kids inhale this they are putting nicotine into their system, which we know is an incredibly addictive drug, but in combination with the other chemicals that they use in these products, and the metal fragments, we're seeing kids showing up with these severe respiratory illnesses that we need to address."
The American Vaping Association (AVP) calls Whitmer's executive move a "shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition." The group, which advocates for what it calls "sensible" regulation of vaping products, said Whitmer's ban is illegal and lawsuits will follow.
"This will close down several hundred Michigan small businesses and could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes," reads a statement from the AVP. "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."
The AVP says businesses who have these products in their inventory are being given a 30-day sell-off window to get the products out the door.