(WWJ) - Flavored e-cigarette products are now banned in Michigan -- effective immediately.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday issued emergency rules to carry out the ban, making Michigan the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes products.
The ban, which covers both retail and online sales of flavored nicotine vaping products, goes into effect immediately but businesses will have 30 days to comply. It will last for six months, then can be renewed for another six months.
The Governor says her top priority is to keep kids safe. She claims the vaping industry is using deceptive advertising to lure kids into using the products named after candies, bubble gum and the like.
"This is a health crisis and in health crises, I have the ability to take action -- and we're taking it," Whitmer said in an exclusive interview with WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick. "These are kids whose lives are going to be compromised forever because of one company that wanted to make some money and falsely advertise and got them addicted to a drug."
While the emergency rules are only temporary, Whitmer will be asking lawmakers to make the ban permanent. It covers products that use sweet and fruity flavors, including mint and menthol. It does not include tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.
"There are 13-year-olds that are vaping 'Froot Loops' right now that are doing lifelong damage and that have no idea that they are engaging in a substance that they're going to be addicted to maybe for the rest of their lives," she said.
Prior to the ban, the American Vaping Association said "there is the complete absence of evidence showing any harm from e-cigarette vapors." Whitmer said she's on legal ground to take on the industry if they sue.
"Trust me, I've run all the traps to make sure that this was squarely within our powers. This is something that is going to be, I think, we're going to be a national leader and our kids are going to be better off for it," she said.
The governor also ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute to prohibit the advertising of vapor products on billboards.
E-cigarettes generally heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable aerosol. The products have been used in the U.S. for more than a decade and are generally considered safer than traditional cigarettes because they don't create all the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco.
But some vaping products have been found to contain other potentially harmful substances, including flavoring chemicals and oils used for vaping marijuana, experts say.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they are looking at 215 possible cases of vaping-related illnesses across 25 states. Symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
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