Michigan becomes the first state in U.S. to ban flavored vaping products

Recent studies have shown vaping products contain metal and chemicals that have unknown long-term health effects. (Shutterstock image)

Michigan will become the first state in the nation to ban flavored vaping products under emergency rules announced Wednesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It will be issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services, which has found youth vaping to be a public health emergency.

The six-month ban will go into effect immediately and will ban sales of sweet, fruity and minty e-cigarettes in retail or online stores, as first reported by the Washington Post. Tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products won’t be banned. 

The ban can be extended up to a year, the Post reported. Over that time, state officials will work to form permanent regulations to ban flavored vaping products. Officials told the Post that the Republican-majority Michigan Legislature could block the rules but that the governor would veto any attempt to do so. 

“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,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday. 

The state will also prohibit using words like “clean,” “safe” and “healthy” in marketing vaping products, which “perpetuate beliefs that these products are harmless,” according to Whitmer’s statement. The Michigan Department of Transportation will also be required to enforce an existing law prohibiting vaping billboard ads. 

Businesses will have 30 days to comply with the order, Whitmer told the Post.

DHHS officials have concluded that Michigan “faces a vaping crisis among youth” and recommended officials create emergency rules to address the crisis, according to an emergency finding issued in August. 

Vaping products have been the most common tobacco products among American youth since 2014, the emergency declaration said. From 2017 to 2018, use went up nearly 80 percent among high school students and nearly 50 percent among middle schoolers. It cited recent studies showing vaping products contain metal and chemicals that have unknown long-term health effects and said that young people who vape are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

“This is a public health crisis. These products can contain harmful chemicals that put our kids’ health at risk,” said Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan chief medical executive and DHHS chief deputy director for health. 

The federal Food and Drug Administration has found leading e-cigarette brands contain cancer-causing chemicals, including ingredients used in antifreeze, DHHS has said

DHHS announced last week that it was investigating six local cases of lung infections believed to be associated with vaping. Last month, an Illinois resident became the first person to die of a vaping-related respiratory illness. 

Other national and Michigan health organizations said they supported the ban, including the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, the Michigan Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. 

The American Vaping Association called the ban a “shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition.” The organization contends it would cause hundreds of small businesses in Michigan to shut down and would push ex-smokers to return to traditional cigarettes.

“We look forward to supporting the lawsuits that now appear necessary to protect the right of adults to access these harm reduction products,” an association spokesperson told the Associated Press.  

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement that the ban constitutes “bold and appropriate action.”

“In the absence of robust regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, we know shockingly little about the health impact of e-cigarettes being widely marketed to youth and adults,” Brown said, adding that the action will protect youth from the products’ unknown health risks. “We urge the FDA to move urgently to protect public health and exercise strict oversight over all e-cigarette products.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also lauded the ban Wednesday, saying she pledges the department’s “continued and shared commitment to keeping these products out of the hands of our kids.”

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Wed, 09/04/2019 - 2:59pm

This move will cost Michigan millions of dollars and 1000s of jobs. Michigan also houses one of the nations largest flavoring distributors here in Lansing and they will literally lose 10s of millions in revenue (and more layoffs). Brick and mortar e-juice/mod stores will be forced to close.

I have watched the change.0rg petition get 350 new signatures in the last 30minutes and counting. This just hit the news so I would expect the total to skyrocket in the next day or two. Please make your voice heard and sign!

Governor Whitmer, YOU will be DIRECTLY responsible for increasing Tobacco usage in Michigan if you continue down this path. Many adults use these devices responsibly to avoid smoking cigarettes and you will be driving them back to the substantially more harmful alternative. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could retract my vote given your short shortsightedness on this topic.

David Zeman
Thu, 09/05/2019 - 10:46am

Driftwood, would love to hear more about what you know. Email me: dzeman@bridgemi.com 

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 5:54pm

So we ban vaping substances and flavors but legalize pot in all its various forms? Because vaping is ... bad for you?

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 11:25am

Vaping is far wrose than cannabis, especially given that everyone with eyes can see that the flavored cartridges being banned are targeted explicitly at teenagers as a way to make up for falling cigarette usage

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 8:53am

Excellent move for public health, Gov!

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 9:18am

recent studies showing vaping products contain metal and chemicals. Please reference studies by Dr. Constantino Farsalinos.
Propylene glycol. (Propylene glycol is commonly found in many packaged foods, such as drink mixes, dressings, dried soups, cake mix, soft drinks, popcorn, food coloring, fast foods, bread and dairy products.)
Vegetable glycerin.
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,” Whitmer.
Also, a lie. Regulated the same as tobacco and alcohol products. Being a bit naive. I vape those sweet juices. I'm 48 years old. I quit cigarettes a year ago. The only breathing condition I have is due to the insane amount of pollens we've had this past summer. My doctor is aware that I vape and has not mentioned any concerns.
The point being overlooked is these were unregulated pods. If regular e liquid were the cause there would be a lot more people sick alot sooner than now.

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 10:57pm

This ban is ridiculous. As a vaping adult, the fruity flavors are the main reason I'm able to stay away from cigarettes, due to the fact that they taste nothing like them. Why can't we raise the legal smoking age to 21 like other states? That would potentially keep tobacco products out of the hands of 18 year old students. And it wouldn't bankrupt many of our local businesses. Also, the comment about vapes having common ingredients with antifreeze is completely biased, and demonizes vaping products without offering the whole story. Propylene glycol is used in marine antifreeze due to the fact that it has a lower freezing point than water, is water soluble, and is safe for the environment, and harmless to fish. Also, over 450,000 people die per year to cigarettes. But vaping gets banned because 400 or so people come up with mysterious illnesses and parents can't control their children? As someone who literally makes his own ejuice, and has quit smoking for over 4 years by vaping, this ban is completely preposterous.

Mb Gilliam
Sat, 09/14/2019 - 8:10am

It seems the main goal of Lansing is to be *first* at something...anything. You can vape "Mint" but not "Pumpkin Spice"? Ridiculous yes, but she got her name in the national news.