Michigan Ban On Flavored Vaping Products Now In Effect

WWJ News
October 02, 2019 - 9:08 am
flavored vaping products

(Photo: Charlie Langton/WWJ)

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(WWJ/AP) - A ban on flavored electronic cigarettes started Wednesday in Michigan despite a legal challenge pending in court.

Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens in Petoskey heard arguments Tuesday about an injunction sought by an Upper Peninsula store owner, but says she's not ready to decide whether to stop the ban.  The hearing will continue on October 8.

In announcing the ban last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer accused e-cigarette makers of using candy flavors and deceptive ads to hook children. Critics say the emergency rules circumvented Michigan's typical regulatory process.

Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist says the ban is in the interest of public safety.

"We stepped up to take action because we are concerned about young people, particularly teens, having access to these products and this getting them started on a pathway toward other sorts of usages," he said.

As the ban takes effect, Gilchrist says he's confident it will stand up in court.

"I'm not going to comment on the legal challenge itself but, I mean, I think yes, we're confident that we what did is within our power to protect the public safety and the people of the state of Michigan," he said.

The ban covers both retail and online sales of flavored nicotine vaping products. It will last for six months, then can be renewed for another six months. 

While the emergency rules are only temporary, Whitmer will be asking lawmakers to make the ban permanent. It covers products that use sweet and fruity flavors, including mint and menthol. It does not include tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes generally heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable aerosol. The products have been used in the U.S. for more than a decade and are generally considered safer than traditional cigarettes because they don't create all the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco. But there's virtually no long-term research on the health effects of the vapor produced when e-cigarettes heat a liquid with nicotine.

Some vaping products have been found to contain other potentially harmful substances, including flavoring chemicals and oils used for vaping marijuana, experts say. 

Hundreds of people have suffered lung ailments tied to vaping and 14 people in the U.S. have died, although no major e-cigarette company has been linked to them and many patients said they vaped products that included THC, the chemical in marijuana. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury. Symptoms have included shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

E-cigarettes have been largely unregulated since arriving in the U.S. in 2007. The Food and Drug Administration has set next May as a deadline for manufacturers to submit their products for review.