Michigan becomes first U.S. state to ban sale of flavored e-cigarettes

The move comes amid a surge of vaping-related hospitalizations.

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said businesses will have 30 days to comply with the new policy.
  • The ban only applies to flavored e-cigarettes, which some consider to be especially appealing to young people.
  • The CDC and FDA are investigating a recent surge in vaping-related hospitalizations, most of which seem to have been caused by black-market vape products.


Michigan plans to become the first U.S. state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday in a move that comes amid growing concern over the dangers of vaping.

Brick-and-mortar stores and online vendors will have 30 days to comply with the ban, which is set to last six months with an option to renew. The governor also ordered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to "ban misleading marketing of vaping products, including the use of terms like 'clean,' 'safe,' and 'healthy' that perpetuate beliefs that these products are harmless."

"As governor, my number one priority is keeping our kids safe," Whitmer said in a statement. "And right now, 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. That ends today."

In another statement, the CEO of the American Heart Association, Nancy Brown, supported the ban, and cited a recent surge of vaping-related hospitalizations, which are still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. At least two people have recently died after vaping.

"We know shockingly little about the health impact of e-cigarettes being widely marketed to youth and adults," Brown said. "The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarette use has only added to the uncertainty and increased the need for immediate action."


"We know shockingly little about the health impact of e-cigarettes being widely marketed to youth and adults," Brown said. "The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarette use has only added to the uncertainty and increased the need for immediate action."

Michigan is set to ban only flavored e-cigarettes, which some consider to be especially appealing to young people. But flavor is also seen as helpful in convincing traditional smokers to switch to vaping, which — though clearly bad for — seems to be healthier than combustible cigarettes. Or, a better way of looking at it is that it's the lesser of two evils, seeing as a growing body of research is steadily revealing that e-cigarettes can damage the heart, cardiovascular cells, and lungs.

The recent vaping-related hospitalizations and deaths are the most concerning. But many of these cases seem to be caused by black-market vape juices — some of which purport to contain THC (the main psychoactive component in marijuana) — that contain contaminants or adulterants, and are sold on the street or in "pop-up shops," according to a recent report from The Washington Post. It seems unlikely that mainstream products from big e-cigarettes companies, such as Juul, are responsible for the hospitalizations.

"What's likely causing the harm is something that they are putting in to make it easy or cheap to mix," former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told The Post.

Still, it remains unclear whether alarm from these recent cases, combined with a body research that continues to illuminate the health effects of conventional vaping products, will influence other states to follow Michigan's path toward stricter regulation.

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