LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she is the first governor in the country to order a total ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, for all ages.
Her chief medical officer has determined that youthful vaping has become a public health emergency in Michigan. In response the governor is issuing emergency rules to cut off the product from getting into what she contends are the unsuspecting hands of young kids.
"One of my biggest, most important jobs of being governor is protecting the kids of Michigan. I'm living with two teenagers. I know a lot of their friends are vaping. We see it every day. We see this constantly bombarding kids with this as a healthy option, getting kids hooked on nicotine before their brains are fully formed, and now we're seeing kids showing up with respiratory problems. So we know this is a national health crisis," she told us.
Here's what the governor's actions will do: ban online and retail sale of sweet, fruity, mint and menthol flavors of vaping products; ban misleading marketing, including placing it next to candy on the shelves, and the use of terms like "clean," "safe," and "healthy"; and direct the Michigan Department of Transportation to ban billboard ads with vaping products.
"Bubble gum, fruit loops. These are flavors that are geared towards kids," the governor contends. "They say their parents will never know because they plug in like a USB. This is deceptive; this is destructive and most importantly it's compromising our kids' health."
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"The American Vaping Association counters that there is the "complete absence of evidence showing harm from e-cigarette vapors," and vaping is "a healthy alternative to tobacco products."
Gov. Whitmer says she's ready for a legal challenge from the industry.
"It's an industry that is notorious for deceiving the public, for putting their bottom line ahead of the public health. Children's brains are not fully formed until they're past 20 years old. There's 13-year-olds that are vaping fruit loops right now, that are doing life-long damage, and have no idea they're engaging in a substance that they'll be addicted to, maybe for the rest of their lives."
The governor's actions are temporary, and she'll ask state lawmakers to make the bans permanent.
It was not immediately clear how quickly her administration would implement the rules.
Michigan attorney general Dana Nessell praised what she's calling a "bold move" by the governor.
"With a more than 1.5 million increase in the number of students using vaping products in just one year, the governor's emergency actions today are exactly the bold measures we must take to protect Michigan's children from the dangerous effects of vaping. I commend the governor's decision and pledge my department's continued and shared commitment to keeping these products out of the hands of our kids."