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Tobacco

Michigan Clarifies Ban on Flavored Nicotine

Mixed reactions to first statewide restriction on vape and pouch products
Photograph: Shutterstock

LANSING, Mich. — Those involved in the tobacco industry and anti-tobacco groups had a wide range of reactions to the governor of Michigan initiating a ban on retail and online sales of flavored nicotine products, with government officials clarifying when the announced rule would take effect, according to tobacco retailing association NATO.

In a Sept. 5 bulletin, executives with the Lakeville, Minn.-based association said it had received clarification on the timing of the emergency rule from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the flavored nicotine restriction. Citing a staff member in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, NATO officials said they had yet to file the emergency rule defining the ban with the Michigan Secretary of State, but the staff member said they would file it “in the coming weeks.”

That staff member also said retailers would have 30 days from the filing date to comply with the rule, even though it officially would take effect the date of that filing. Whitmer announced her decision Sept. 4.

The rule includes flavored electronic-nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes, hookah pens, vape pens and vaporizers, as well as flavored alternative nicotine products such as pouches and dissolvable lozenges.

While NATO did not express an opinion over the measure, those for and against have issued formal statements.

“Gov. Whitmer’s order will effectively wipe out tobacco harm reduction in the Great Lakes State,” said Lindsey Stroud, state government relations manager for the Heartland Institute, Arlington Heights, Ill. She described Whitmer’s arguments for the ban as “completely wrong.”

In her statement, Stroud said no evidence exists to say flavor bans reduce youth use of nicotine products. After similar bans in California, youth use of e-cigarettes increased, Stroud said. “Further, Whitmer’s assertion that vaping companies are marketing these products as safe is completely wrong. Per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 deeming regulations, no vaping manufacturer or retailer is allowed to assert any health claim about these products unless they have obtained a modified-risk tobacco product certification.”

Anti-tobacco groups supported the move. “The American Medical Association commends [Gov. Whitmer] for taking action … to ban flavored e-cigarette products, as well as the misleading marketing of these products to youth, in the state of Michigan,” said Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, Chicago. “We strongly believe the use of e-cigarettes and vaping is an urgent public health epidemic that must be addressed.”

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