On Monday, Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stevens denied a request to temporarily postpone Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes that took effect Tuesday.
The emergency order, which bans the sale of all flavored nicotine liquid and the use of flavors to market e-cigarettes, was announced on Sept. 17. Retailers were given two weeks from the announcement to sell or dispose of their products.
The request was part of a lawsuit filed by Mark Slis, owner of 906 Vapor in Houghton, Michigan. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jonker denied a similar request made by Mister E-Liquid, a Grand Rapids-based vape shop on Monday.
Slis’s lawsuit was filed in Houghton County Circuit Court. It claimed the rules violate Michigan state laws and asked for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to postpone the ban. The temporary restraining order was denied, and a hearing was held Monday for the preliminary injunction. The judge took no action and postponed the hearing until Oct. 8.
In his testimony before the Michigan House Oversight Committee, Slis offered a personal story about flavored e-cigarettes helping him with his smoking addiction. He also discussed how the ban will affect his business and similar businesses across the state.
“If the governor’s order stands and flavors are banned, I will go immediately go out of business,” Slis said. “I will immediately file for bankruptcy. No question. I think my experience will be mirrored across the state.”
The lawsuit filed by Mister-E Liquid cites similar concerns, saying the company would be forced to shut down, leave the state of Michigan, and lay off employees.
LSA junior Blake Richards used to use a Juul electronic cigarette but has recently quit because of mental health effects and decreased motivation and energy levels. He explained how he thought the ban would affect vape shops in Ann Arbor.
“From what I’ve heard, several vape shops will essentially replace e-liquid with CBD oils, tinctures, etc. as CBD is becoming more and more popular,” Richards said. “I would imagine that this is why Gretchen Whitmer gave about a month’s notice.”
He also explained he thought the ban would work and was worth possible short-term harm.
“While I couldn’t speculate the percentage, I do think a large amount of kids will quit smoking,” Richards said. “Especially if they’re relatively new smokers. From personal experience, tobacco-flavored e-liquid was only tolerable for a few hits in the morning and just a few more throughout the day. And cigarettes leave a horrible taste in your mouth and most people know they are filled with carcinogens, tar and about a dozen other chemicals that shouldn't ever be in your lungs.”
When she announced the ban, Whitmer said her order followed a finding by Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, that youth vaping was a public health crisis. In a statement, Khaldun said the increase in vaping among young people was alarming.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosive increase in the number of Michigan kids exposed to vaping products,” Khaldun said. “This is a public health crisis. These products can contain harmful chemicals that put our kids’ health at risk. I’m looking forward to working with Governor Whitmer to mitigate these effects and keep our kids healthy.”
There have been concerns the ban would cause users to switch to cigarettes in the absence of an alternative.
Michigan was the first state to enact a ban on flavored nicotine liquid. Since Whitmer announced the order, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and California have taken similar actions. The Trump administration has also announced an interest in enacting a similar policy.
“We’re looking at very strong rules and regulations. We already have laws as we need them,” President Donald Trump said in a Sept. 11 press conference. “But we want to get to the bottom of a very unusual situation. It’s so new, and it’s become so big, so fast. And it could be a potential very severe problem.”
Alex Azar, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, also gave a brief statement about the administration’s ban and explained its goal of reducing the number of children using e-cigarettes.
“So, with the President’s support, the Food and Drug Administration intends to finalize a guidance document that would commence enforcement to require that all flavors, other than tobacco flavor, would be removed from the market,” Azar said. “So, once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace.”