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

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

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

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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Photo by Reinhart Julian on Unsplash
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