LANSING, MICH. (ABC) – Michigan on Wednesday became the first state in the country to ban flavored e-cigarettes, as concerns continue to grow over the potential dangers of vaping.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the decision after her chief medical executive found that vaping among young people “constitutes a public health emergency,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Whitmer lambasted companies selling vaping products by “using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe.”
“That ends today,” she said in a statement.
Flavored nicotine vaping products — which include tastes akin to apple juice, bubble gum and Nerds candy — will be banned in retail stores and online in the state. Any marketing of the products that include the words “clean,” “safe,” and “healthy” have also been banned.
Whitmer also ordered the state’s Department of Transportation to enforce an existing statute to prohibit the advertising of vapor products on billboards.
“Governor Whitmer has taken bold and appropriate action in response to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement.
The ban comes after nearly 100 possible cases of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping were reported in 14 states from late June to mid August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services was reviewing six cases involving respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarettes and vaping.
“The severity of illness people are experiencing is alarming and we want Michiganders to be aware using e-cigarettes and vaping can be dangerous,” Sarah Lyon-Callo, the state epidemiologist, said in August.
The CDC noted that more information is needed to determine exactly what is causing the illnesses. In all of the cases across the nation, it does not appear that there is an infectious disease involved.
Vaping among high school students increased by 78% from 2017 to 2018, and rose by 48% among middle school students during that same time period, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA believes the sharp increase stems from the use of USB-flash-drive-like e-cigarettes, including the JUUL product, which have become majorly popular among young people.
More than 3.6 million kids reported using e-cigarettes in 2018, according to the FDA.