The governor said it was necessary for “keeping our kids safe”

By Julie Mazziotta
September 04, 2019 04:38 PM

Michigan has become the first state to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to stop underage vaping.

The ban covers all in-store and online sales of e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco, and comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control announced that it is investigating almost 200 reported cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she signed the two bills on Tuesday after the state health department determined that teen vaping has become an epidemic in Michigan.

“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan,” she said.

Whitmer said that “candy taste” of e-cigarettes with flavors like “Fruit Loops, Fanta and Nilla wafers” is what is enticing kids and has led to a 20 percent increase in teen vaping between 2017 and 2018.

“Behind the candy taste, however, is a product that hooks kids and adults alike: E-cigarettes can deliver nicotine more than twice as quickly as tobacco cigarettes,” she wrote in her announcement to Michigan state senators.

Whitmer added that while e-cigarettes may have been intended as a way for smokers to avoid toxins in traditional cigarettes, they instead created millions of new smokers.

“Today, that pitch looks like a bait-and-switch,” she said. “The marketing, packaging and taste of e-cigarettes are perfectly designed to create new nicotine addicts, who then convert to lifelong smokers at alarming rates.”

The ban will go into effect in the next 30 days.

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While Michigan will be the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, San Francisco became the first city to do so in June, after legislators voted to stop the sale and distribution of all types of e-cigarettes. The California city’s ban will begin next year.

The American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Truth Initiative all applauded Whitmer’s decision, calling it “necessary and appropriate,” according to NBC News. They also urged the FDA to apply the ban nationwide.

“The time for waiting is over,” they said in a joint statement.

Vaping advocates disagreed with Michigan’s ban, and said that it will drive people back to traditional cigarettes.

“This shameless attempt at backdoor prohibition will close down several hundred Michigan small businesses and could send tens of thousands of ex-smokers back to deadly combustible cigarettes,” said American Vaping Association president Greg Conley in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

As the CDC investigates the reported cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping, several sufferers have spoken out about their experience. An 18-year-old woman in Utah said she will “never touch a vape again” after nearly dying, and a Pennsylvania teen is currently in a medically induced coma due to lung problems. Additionally, an Illinois resident has reportedly died of a “severe respiratory illness” from vaping.

Michigan health officials are currently investigating six cases that may be related to vaping.