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Lawmakers debate bill that would snuff out flavored vaping ban

person smoking an ecigarette
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Some lawmakers want to prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from issuing rules restricting access and use of vaping products. Lawmakers debated the bill (HB 5019) in front of a House committee Tuesday.

This comes after MDHHS issued emergency rules banning the sale and manufacturing of flavored vaping products with more than 2% nicotine. 

Earlier reporting on this story:

Ken Fletcher is with the American Lung Association in Michigan. He says young people vaping is an “epidemic.”

“The Lung Association supports Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer’s decision to take bold action to protect kids by combatting e-cigarette use, and especially support the rule to end sales of all flavored e-cigarettes including mint and menthol,” Fletcher told committee members.

But opponents of the ban say the state shouldn’t punish adults who are trying to quit smoking.

“Flavors are the key to quitting, that drives everybody back to smoking, to a black market, including our youth,” said Mark Slis, owner of 906 Vapor. He is suing the state to overturn the ban.

Committee chair, Representative Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) said the ban on flavored vaping products is a big issue for his constituents.

“We had more emails in the month of September on that than we had on the budget,” he told reporters after the hearing. “So, it’s a lot of folks who are saying this is the way I was able to stop smoking."

In a statement, Whitmer Communications Director Zack Pohl said the governor took “bold action” to protect young people from vaping. He said it’s a public health emergency and the bill, “stands in the way of crucial efforts to protect our kids from its harmful effects.”

“It should be no surprise to anyone that the governor plans to veto any legislation that restricts the administration’s authority to protect people from a public health emergency,” Pohl said.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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