The state becomes first to enact flavor ban after being last to enact a ban on the sale to minors.
Legislators throughout the United States have been hastily enacting various regulations on vaping at an increasing rate over the last couple of years. These regulations often treat vaping the same as smoking, in some instances worse, despite emerging evidence highlighting the safety of vaping and its efficacy as a smoking cessation aid.
Michigan became the first state in the country to ban the sale of all flavored vapor products. This initial statewide ban was directed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, claiming the regulation is aimed at combating teen use.
Public health officials have championed so-called “flavor bans” for years now, and applaud the new law as a way to limit the appeal of vaping to teens. Critics of the ban note that research suggests flavor bans often end up negatively impacting adults more than positively impacting teens, and that Michigan lawmakers may simply be making up face for recently being literally the last state to implement any regulations concerning the sale of vapor products to minors.
Preventing teen use of nicotine should be a primary concern among legislators, but hastily enacting regulations without adequate research may actually serve as more of a public health risk than benefit. Evidence has continued to emerge highlighting the safety of vaping compared to smoking, regulating the two as one in the same can end up negatively end up impacting adult smokers looking for proven cessation options to help them quit.
First Statewide Ban
Michigan recently became the first state to ban any flavored vapor products, even going so far as to ban menthol which had been omitted from similar municipal regulations. The ban not only impacts retail sales in brick-and-mortar outlets but also extends to online sales delivered within the state.
Under the direction of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has imposed the ban, effective immediately over the next six months. At the end of those six months, officials can vote to extend the ban another six months if more permanent legislation hasn’t been agreed upon yet.
While Governor Whitmer claims the ban is aimed at protecting the state’s youth, critics of the ban have doubted these claims as cover for a political stunt to help the state appear more progressive. Michigan had only restricted the sale of vapor products to minors a few months back, being the last state in the country to enact the common-sense legislation.
While claiming to act in the interests of public health, Michigan may actually be serving to its detriment. Flavor bans often end up placing former smokers at risk of relapsing by restricting what may have made them convert in the first place.
Truth About Vaping
There have been multiple studies that have emerged over the years suggesting flavor bans may be detrimental to public health. A report by Dr. John Buckell of Yale University found that former smokers were likely to switch back to smoking in the event of a flavor ban, due to the options of flavors being a primary preference for vaping.
These bans are often enacted in the name of preventing youth vaping, yet research continues to highlight that teens aren’t taking up vaping in the first place. In a landmark study performed by Public Health England, researchers discovered that as little as 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens who even try vaping actually take it up habitually.
These attempts to portray vaping in a negative light come despite a growing list of peer-reviewed studies highlighting the efficacy of vaping in smoking cessation. One such study by the University of Louisville found vaping to be the single most effective smoking cessation tool available today, even beating out prescription options such as Chantix.
On top of this, we have the largest body of evidence supporting the harm-reduction value of vapor products. An example study, recently published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences, found vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer in their lifetime compared to smokers.
The Michigan flavor ban may signal the start of a troubling trend for the vaping industry and members of the vaping community. Despite years of evidence highlighting their efficacy in smoking cessation and the harm-reduction value they pose compared to cigarettes, lawmakers continue their relentless onslaught against vaping.
Statewide vaping bans negatively impact small mom and pop retail outlets, putting hard-working people out of business and shrinking the states tax base. These bans also place former adult smokers at risk, by preventing access to a safer alternative to tobacco; they may be more inclined to take up smoking again. They may also seek out unsafe black-market or DIY vapor alternatives due to the lack of safe options from retail outlets.
Michigan and Governor Whitmer should be looked at with particular scrutiny due to the timing and dramatic imposition of the ban. It’s important to reiterate that Michigan recently became the last state in the nation to restrict the sale of vapor products to minors, and that this ban may very well be a political move by Whitmer to help the state appear more progressive.
Legislators who enact bans that restrict the rights and freedoms of adults without doing basic research and avoid the democratic process should be held to account by their constituents. Members of the vaping community need to help properly inform the public about the benefits of vaping and how vaping has improved their lives.
Do you believe more statewide bans are coming following Michigan’s lead? Did the appeal of certain flavors get you into vaping? Do you believe flavor bans are good or bad for public health? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news.
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