Friday, October 8, 2021

Michigan abandons plan to ban flavored vaping products in favor of new approach

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 11:35 AM

click to enlarge Flavored nicotine vaping liquids at Detroit Smoke & Vape in Midtown. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Flavored nicotine vaping liquids at Detroit Smoke & Vape in Midtown.

Michigan has abruptly abandoned its two-year effort to ban the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products and now plans to take a different approach to address youth vaping, which has sharply declined.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) withdrew rules this week that were aimed at permanently banning the sale and distribution of flavored nicotine vaping products.

Vaping advocates have long argued the ban was misdirected and would primarily impact former cigarette smokers who kicked the habit by vaping flavored nicotine, which generally is considered less harmful.

“MDHHS is working with our legislative partners to protect youth from the addiction that can result from flavored nicotine vaping products,” MDHHS spokesman Bob Wheaton told Metro Times in a statement Friday. “Because of progress on a legislative solution, MDHHS has pulled back the rules that were to be considered by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. MDHHS remains committed to protecting Michigan youth from the dangers of nicotine use and addiction and appreciates the spirit of partnership within the Legislature to find a solution that accomplishes this important goal.”

Wheaton is referring to a six-bill package in the state Senate (572-577) that would raise the age requirement for buying tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. The legislation also would impose an 18% tax on flavored nicotine liquid and ban the products from being marketed to minors.

click to enlarge A young woman vaping nicotine. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • A young woman vaping nicotine.

Teen vaping in the U.S. plummeted 43% over last year, according to the recently published 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The study found that 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, compared to 19.6% of high school students and 4.7% of middle schoolers in 2020.

In September 2019, Michigan became the first state in the U.S. to ban flavored nicotine products. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order, saying the rise in youth vaping constituted a health emergency.

But a Michigan Court of Claims judge issued an injunction requested by vape shop owners, who argued Whitmer overstepped her authority by imposing a ban without the approval of state lawmakers. The Michigan Supreme Court denied the state’s request to reconsider the lower court’s ruling in September 2020.

Whitmer’s administration took a different route last year, when MDHHS proposed rules to ban the products and began holding public hearings on the issue.

The crackdown came amid an unrelated outbreak of severe lung illnesses caused by tainted marijuana vaping products, causing many people to conflate the two issues.

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