Michigan became the first state in the country to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes after state officials declared a public health emergency.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the ban Wednesday after her Chief Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, found that the increasing numbers in youth vaping warranted the declaration of a public health emergency. With the emergency in place, the proposed ban can last for six months. Whitmer has not outlined her plan to continue to work with state lawmakers on a more permanent solution, but the current six month ban could be renewed for another six months before the administrative process is overseen by the state legislature.
The news came as a surprise to most, but Whitmer has been working on limiting distribution of e-cigarettes to the youth since she signed legislation to ban e-cigarette sales to minors in June. She has remained consistent in her motivation to place restrictions on e-cigarette sales, concerned with protecting Michigan’s youth.
“As governor, my number one priority is keeping our kids safe,” stated Governor Whitmer 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 Governor’s concern with the increasing use of electronic vapor products among teens comes at a time when teen use has increased at a concerning rate. According to the biannual Youth Risk & Resiliency Survey with data gathered between 2015-16 and 2017-18, 39 of Michigan’s counties saw anywhere from a 29 percent to a 118 percent increase in the amount of high-school students who used electronic vapor products.
Upon taking part in the declaration of a public health emergency, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is busy with helping to move forward with the governor’s plan.
“Staff at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are working on finalizing the emergency rules that need to be submitted to the Secretary of State to put this ban into place,” said Lynn Sutfin, Public Information Officer at the MDHHS. “In addition, we are working on a toolkit of information for retailers to assist them with complying with the ban.”
With the news of Whitmer’s proposed ban still fresh, The Collegiate staff wanted to find out what students around campus thought about how it would affect them and their peers.
“I don’t know if it was really necessary because for adults, they still want to be able to enjoy their vapes and they’re trying to quit smoking,” said 19-year-old student Jay Howard. “I can see why they targeted teens, but I don’t think it was really a necessary move.”
Though Emily Beidler, 18, didn’t hesitate to point out that a large group of people are going to be angry with the ban, she did highlight a potential benefit of the ban.
“I think it’s good, it’ll force people to quit,” she said, admitting that she thinks it will even force her to quit, too.
The governor is working with the health department to finalize the emergency rules over the next couple of weeks, before the official ban of flavored e-cigarettes will be enacted.
Paul Ce contributed to this report.