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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is addressing the public health emergency of kids “vaping Fruit Loops” by imposing the nation’s first statewide ban on flavored e-cigarettes.
“Companies selling vaping products are using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe,” Whitmer said in a statement Wednesday. “That ends today.”
The ban outlaws fruity and menthol flavors, but still allows tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes. It also stops vaping products from being labeled things like “clear” or “safe.” E-cigarettes have been marketed as safer alternatives for smokers.
The ban will go into effect immediately after it’s filed and will last six months, with the option to renew it for another six months after that. Meanwhile, state officials will reportedly work to create a permanent ban, with any attempt to block that legislation likely facing a veto.
Some cities have banned flavored e-cigarettes, and earlier this summer San Francisco banned e-cigarettes altogether.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently declared youth vaping a public health emergency for the state, according to a statement from Whitmer. The department is investigating six current cases of lung infections that have been tied to vaping and e-cigarettes.
Health officials around the country have linked hundreds of cases of severe lung disease — and one death — to the use of e-cigarettes. It’s unclear if vaping definitely caused the problems, but a number of the victims seemingly used vaping products with THC.
Vaping is increasingly popular among teens. A National Institutes of Health survey found that 21 percent of high school seniors said they had vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, and about 80 percent of those kids cite the flavors as a big draw.
But vaping advocates are ready to fight the ban. “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,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said in a statement.
The association further said it would support lawsuits against the ban, but Whitmer told WJBK in Detroit that she was ready for any legal challenge.
“Children's brains are not fully formed until they're past 20 years old,” she said. “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."
Cover: In this Wednesday, April 11, 2018 photo, an unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device near the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)