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Michigan becomes first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has ordered the state Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency rules banning the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in retail stores and online.

teen girl vaping ecigarette VlaDee/Getty Images

The state health agency is expected to issue rules outlining the ban within the next 30 days. The emergency ban will be in effect for 6 months, with the possibility of a 6-month extension while state health regulators craft rules to set in place a permanent ban.

The ban will also prohibit “misleading marketing of vaping products, including the use of terms like ‘clean,’ ‘safe,’ and ‘healthy,’ that perpetuate beliefs that these products are harmless,” according to a statement issued by Gov. Whitmer.

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,” she said in a statement. “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 ban also will cover mint- and menthol-flavors in addition to sweet flavors but will not ban tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other organizations praised the action taken by the state, calling the steps “necessary and appropriate.”

“The need for action is even more urgent in light of the recent outbreak of severe lung illness associated with e-cigarette use and the failure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take strong regulatory action such as prohibiting the sale of the flavored products nationwide that have attracted shocking numbers of our nation’s youth,” the organizations said in a statement.

The groups noted that “health authorities are investigating reports of severe respiratory illness associated with e-cigarette use in at least 215 people ... in 25 states,” adding that many are youth and young adults.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in an Aug. 30 statement that the federal government is “using every tool we have to get to the bottom of this deeply concerning outbreak of illness in Americans who use e-cigarettes. More broadly, we will continue using every regulatory and enforcement power we have to stop the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.”

HHS noted that no single substance or e-cigarette product has been consistently associated with the reports of illness. The agency called upon clinicians to report any new cases as appropriate to their state and local health departments.

Gov. Whitmer earlier this year signed bills that clarify that it is illegal to sell nontraditional nicotine products to minors, but the governor’s statement notes her criticism that the bills did not go far enough to protect the state’s youth, necessitating this further action.

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