Michigan Court Halts Governor’s Ban on Flavored E-Cigs, Vapes

Published January 16, 2020

A proposed statewide ban on flavored e-cigarettes awaits a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to issue emergency rules banning online and retail sales of flavored e-cigarettes, in response to reports of an increase in vaping-related lung diseases. Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens issued a statewide preliminary injunction against the ban on October 15.

The state regulators “undercut their own assertions of an emergency,” Stephens said in her order. “Despite the availability of the information, DHHS waited for eight months before declaring an emergency.”

Whitmer filed an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court on October 25 to lift the injunction, which could be effective for six months. As of press time, the Supreme Court had not ruled on the state’s request.

Flavors are a common element of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. In a 2018 survey of nearly 70,000 American adult vapers, 83.2 percent of respondents reported using fruit-flavored vapes, and 72.3 percent said they used so-called dessert flavors.

‘Unsupported, Unjustified Attack’

Several requests for an injunction were filed by vape shop owners, among them Marc Slis, owner of 906 Vapor, a vape shop in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After smoking for 41 years, the 55-year-old father of three wandered into a vape shop and became a former tobacco user. Slis went on to buy that vape shop, and he has helped an estimated thousand people quit smoking.

Government reports refute the reasoning behind Whitmer’s ban, says Slis.

“While Gov. Whitmer used the outbreak as a springboard, the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report clearly indicates that flavors are not the driver of youth electronic cigarette use as claimed by the governor and the Michigan HHS,” Slis said.

“As a flavor ban had never been done in any other state, this ban is nothing more than a social experiment conducted on an entire state,” Slis said. “This order, in my opinion, also amounted to an unsupported, unjustified attack on both a lifesaving industry and a community of Michigan residents seeking to improve their health and their lives by using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking—the number one cause of death in Michigan, the United States, and the world.”

Lindsey Stroud ([email protected]) is a state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute.