Michigan bans flavored e-cigarettes, becoming the first state to do so, governor says

In a move to discourage teens and other young people from vaping, Michigan will become the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, the state’s governor said.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told The Washington Post the state on Wednesday will become the first to ban the flavored devices.

The ban goes into effect immediately and applies to both retail and online sales, though businesses have 30 days to comply. Mint, menthol, sweet and fruity flavors will be affected, but tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will not, she said.

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The ban will last six months but can be renewed for another six months as state officials “develop permanent regulations banning flavored e-cigarettes,” The Washington Post reported.

“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe and protecting the health of the people of Michigan,” Whitmer told the newspaper, adding the ban will also restrict the use of “misleading” words such as “safe” and “healthy” on vaping advertisements.

The move comes after San Francisco in June took a step to curb teen vaping addiction by banning the sales of the devices.

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

— Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March issued a proposal to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes which has not been finalized. The restrictions would affect sweet and fruity flavors, but not mint and menthol, which also attract teens, according to The Washington Post.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday there were 215 potential cases of respiratory illnesses linked to vaping across 25 states. Teens primarily have been affected. The first vaping-related death was reported last month in Illinois.

Both the CDC and the FDA are investigating what may be behind the illnesses, though a specific product has not yet been identified. An unnamed source reportedly told The Washington Post last week both state and federal health officials are looking at “contaminants or counterfeit substances,” specifically in THC-containing vaping products, as a possible source.

“More information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses,” the CDC told Fox News in a statement. “At this time, there does not appear to be one product involved in all of the cases, although THC and cannabinoids use has been reported in many cases. At this time, the specific substances within the e-cigarette products that cause illness are not known and could involve a variety of substances.”

“We continue to gather information about the names of the products used, where they were purchased, and how the products were used. That information is critical to help determine whether patterns emerge on which we can take additional action.”

The short and long-term health issues associated with vaping are not well understood.
(iStock)

The negative health effects associated with cigarettes and cigars have long been documented, leading to a decline in use among teens in the U.S. in recent years.

But the same isn’t true for e-cigarette use. In 2018, nearly one in every 20 middle school students (4.9 percent) reported using electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days. That’s an increase from less than 1 percent in 2011.

Last year, the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, declared vaping among American teens an “epidemic.”

“This is an unprecedented challenge,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the time.

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Though e-cigarettes are often touted as a “safer” alternative to cigarettes, a recent study found that may not be the case.

The study, led by University of Pennsylvania researchers, claimed there are damaging effects on a user’s blood vessels after just one use.

A spokesperson for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on Wednesday.