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DHHS Takes Testimony On Flavored Vaping Ban Rule

October 27, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) took at least six hours of testimony Tuesday on permanent rules designed to ban the sale of flavored vaping products.

Health advocates and parents argued in favor of rules they see as getting these nicotine-based products out of the hands of children.  
 
Vaping shop owners, R.J. Reynolds, and adults who use flavored vapes to quit smoking claimed the products are vital in assisting people to quit smoking cigarettes, which are much more harmful to one’s health.  
 
Discussion of the permanent rules comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to shut down vaping shops through an emergency executive order that was struck down in the courts. 
 
Among those testifying Tuesday was the Keep MI Kids Tobacco-Free Alliance, which said Tuesday’s action is “sorely needed and overdue.” They claim more than 20% of high school kids now use e-cigarettes with nearly half of them doing so frequently. 
 
They also used statistics to show that 82.9% of current e-cigarette users use flavored products. 
 
“Vaping has become a tragic epidemic among school-aged children, with e-cigarette use skyrocketing in recent years,” read a statement from the Alliance. “Today’s hearing was an important first step toward implementing effective policy that can make a real difference in protecting Michigan’s kids from the harmful effects of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.” 
 
Opponents argued DHHS is overstepping its authority with the rules. Banning products is a legislative function. 
 
Much of the opposition, at its core, came from former smokers who use vaping as a safer alternative to smoking and the shops that provide the products. The customers enjoy the flavors and see themselves going back to smoking if the only flavor available is tobacco.  
 
“Why did the 73-year-old woman who shops at my store come in crying to me last time that Gov. Whitmer banned flavors because she could no longer get her caramel waffle flavored vape liquid?” asked Jeremiah Hall in the comment section of the hearing. 
 
They argued that if the government wants to stop youths from vaping, they should increase penalties on that, not punish those who are of legal age by forcing them to dive into the black market. 
 
Now that a public hearing has been held, a final draft of the rules is crafted with them ultimately landing in the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules (JCAR) within a year of the hearing. Once JCAR gets the rules, they have 15 session days to introduce legislation rejecting them or they go into effect.

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