September 6, 2019 - On September 4, Michigan became the first state in the nation to place a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products when Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered, by executive authority, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules to ban:
- The sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in retail stores and online (the ban does not apply to tobacco-flavored products)
- Misleading marketing of vaping products, including the use of terms like “clean,” “safe,” and “healthy,” which perpetuate the false belief that these products are harmless
She also ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute to prohibit advertising of vapor products on billboards.
The Michigan Public Health Code gives state departments authority to create rules that “safeguard properly the public health and prevent the spread of diseases.”
“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe. Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and is leading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe. That ends today,” Governor Whitmer wrote in a tweet and reinforced during an interview with MSNBC.
According to Food and Drug Administration data reported by MDHHS, between 2017 and 2018, vaping increased by more than 78% among high school students and 48% among middle-schoolers. This data prompted the state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, to, on August 30, declare youth vaping a public health emergency and recommend adoption of the emergency rules.
Shortly thereafter, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it has received reports of more than 200 cases of serious respiratory illnesses—including six in Michigan.
Once the ban is officially filed, likely within the next few weeks, Michigan businesses that sell flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products will have 30 days to comply with the rules. The ban will remain in effect for six months and can be renewed for an additional six months. To extend the ban further, the Legislature would need to pass legislation or work through the traditional rule-making process that is subject to legislative review.
“As Michigan and other states are experiencing a surge in cases of critical respiratory illness associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, family physicians strongly urge individuals of all ages to refrain from using these products and devices. While the long-term safety data are not yet available on these relatively new products and devices, we do know that e-cigarettes and vapor contain harmful compounds—such as nicotine, heavy metals, and flavoring agents—confirmed to increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic lung disease, as well as impair brain development in children and teens. We applaud Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s bold actions to protect Michigan’s youth from the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and vaping,” said MAFP President Keerthy Krishnamani, MD, MBA in a media statement released on September 4.
Earlier this summer, Governor Whitmer signed into law a package of bills clarifying that it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes and other non-traditional nicotine products to Michiganders under the age of 18. While MAFP supported the intent of the legislation, the Academy, along with other healthcare organizations, did not support Senate Bills 106 and 155 because they fail to classify e-cigarettes and vaping products as tobacco products, thus exempting them from tobacco laws, including Michigan’s smoke-free air laws. Upon signing the bills, the Governor also criticized the bills for not going far enough to protect Michigan’s youth.