Today is the last day to legally buy flavored vaping juice in Michigan.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Oct. 1 ban comes amid multiple fatalities linked to e-cigarette usage. The increase in teenage vaping is what was particularly troubling for officials in Michigan.
“In the past few years, we have seen an explosive increase in the number of Michigan kids exposed to vaping products,” said Lynn Sutfin, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Public Information Officer.
While vaping may seem harmless to some, Sutfin cited research that MDHHS gathered which Whitmer used, in part, to initiate the ban.
“The nicotine in these products can rewire the brain to crave more of the substance and create a nicotine addiction,” Sutfin said. “Resulting brain changes may have long-lasting effects on attention, learning, and memory.”
However, according to Uptown Vape Shoppe employee, Nate Stevens, a nicotine addiction is not of grave concern.
“Nicotine is one of the least addictive substances in cigarettes,” Stevens said. “It’s hardly the most dangerous.”
Although, Stevens did acknowledge that nicotine use by the younger generation is problematic.
“Nicotine in developing kids is absolutely harmful,” Stevens said. “It does lead to problems. It is more addictive when you’re younger.”
While he does understand the need to prevent teens from getting hooked, Stevens does not agree with Whitmer’s approach.
“It’s just stomping it with too big a foot,” Stevens said. “And it’s not solving the problem, it’s just changing how it’s dealt with. The ban is a really heavy handed approach to a problem that would be much easier to solve through other methods.”
According to Stevens, the store has seen a significant increase in flavored juice sales within the last few weeks. He accredited this to the fact that “it’s still a vice they enjoy that’s going away.” As a whole, the consensus amongst Uptown Vape Shoppe’s regular customer base is that the ban is “more disappointing than anything.”
Stevens added that there is a “pretty healthy spread” amongst the demographic of the customers which frequent the store.
“For some of them, they are talking about going back to cigarettes and that’s very disheartening,” Stevens said. “Some of them are talking about quitting entirely which is heartening. Some of them were just never smokers and they just liked vaping.”
Steven has hope that the ban will be short-lived.
“I expect it to be unpopular enough that it does not exceed its first six-month period,” Stevens said. “I’m hoping it gets killed in courts before then, of course.”
In an effort to gage student opinions of the statewide ban at Grand Rapids Community College, several students were asked to give their opinion. The resounding response was a series of students declining to comment.