Michigan has become the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes after its health department declared youth vaping a public health emergency.
The ban is effective immediately and applies to all retail and online sales in the state, with businesses given 30 days to comply. According to The Washington Post, which broke the story early Wednesday, the ban will last for six months at which point lawmakers can renew it for another six months. Simultaneously there's reported legislation being developed to put in place a permanent ban.
Surprisingly it was Michigan and not California or New York - both typically at the forefront of banning products over health fears - to be the first to take aggressive legislative action. San Francisco was the first city that recently enacted a ban on e-cigarettes.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) cited the state health department to say youth vaping was an urgent public health emergency which demanded immediate action.
“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan,” Whitmer said. Though ironically vaping has been marketed as a "safer" alternative to traditional cigarettes, critics say the variety of flavors are designed to appeal to young people.
Gov. Whitmer cited this critique in her rationale for pursuing a ban, per The Washington Post:
She complained that e-cigarette companies are using sweet flavors, such as bubble gum and “fruit loops,” to hook young people on nicotine, with potentially long-term harmful consequences.
Opponents of a ban or restriction on e-cigarettes cite the nearly half-million deaths per year as a result of the nation's traditional cigarette smoking epidemic, according to most studies. Vaping supporters say that though e-cigarettes' long term effects are as yet unknown, they are certainly safer than regular cigarettes.
Late last year US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams formally declared e-cigarettes an "epidemic" while citing a "historic, unprecedented increase" in use.
And last week a NBC report based on data from multiple state health departments said almost 300 people have been hospitalized nationwide as a result of problems connected to vaping, such as lung-related illness.
Meanwhile, e-cigarette and "smoking alternative" comany Juul has reportedly poured millions into lobbying against bans on its product; however, Michigan's relatively fast move to impose the ban is sign of a likely coming domino effect.