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Michigan Governor Orders State Ban On Sale Of Flavored E-Cigarettes


The sale of flavored vaping products could soon be banned in Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer today declared vaping a public health emergency. She says Michigan will soon be the first state to outlaw flavored e-cigarettes. But as Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the rule will likely face court challenges and review by the state legislature.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan's public health chief. She says fruit-flavored vaping products are highly attractive to young people before they're old enough to make responsible choices about nicotine use.

JONEIGH KHALDUN: For many of them, a flavored e-cigarette is what they use initially.

PLUTA: Khaldun says flavors offered by stores and online retailers include bubble gum, vanilla, tropical fruit and strawberry. Buttered popcorn is also a popular vaping flavor. Khaldun says that's what makes vaping increasingly attractive to teens and 20-somethings.

KHALDUN: Some counties have seen up to a doubling of e-cigarette use among high school students.

PLUTA: And that's why she says the availability of flavored vaping products is a public health emergency. Once the order is issued, vaping stores will have 30 days to comply. They will still be allowed to sell e-cigarettes and vaping products, just not the candy flavors that public health experts say are such a draw to young consumers.

The rule would also place restrictions on how e-cigarettes are marketed. For example, ads that say vaping is a safe alternative to smoking will be banned. Some local governments across the country have bans on selling e-cigarettes, but no state has successfully banned vaping products, according to an industry spokesman.

Gregory Conley is with the American Vaping Association. He argues that Michigan's ban would be illegal because a governor does not have that kind of unrestricted power. And he says it's a bad idea.

GREGORY CONLEY: Bans on adult products, going and doing a backdoor prohibition on over 90% of the vaping products available in Michigan today is just going to send ex-smokers back to smoking cigarettes, and it will result in hundreds of small businesses throughout Michigan closing their doors.

PLUTA: Conley says Michigan can expect a court challenge if this rule is filed and enforced, as well as an intensive lobbying effort aimed at ensuring this temporary order from the governor remains exactly that - temporary.

For NPR News, I'm Rick Pluta.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVOLUTION OF STARS' "PRETENDING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.