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Michigan Governor Orders State Ban On Sale Of Flavored E-Cigarettes

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The sale of flavored vaping products could soon be banned in Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer today declared vaping a public health emergency. She says Michigan will soon be the first state to outlaw flavored e-cigarettes. But as Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta reports, the rule will likely face court challenges and review by the state legislature.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: Dr. Joneigh Khaldun is Michigan's public health chief. She says fruit-flavored vaping products are highly attractive to young people before they're old enough to make responsible choices about nicotine use.

JONEIGH KHALDUN: For many of them, a flavored e-cigarette is what they use initially.

PLUTA: Khaldun says flavors offered by stores and online retailers include bubble gum, vanilla, tropical fruit and strawberry. Buttered popcorn is also a popular vaping flavor. Khaldun says that's what makes vaping increasingly attractive to teens and 20-somethings.

KHALDUN: Some counties have seen up to a doubling of e-cigarette use among high school students.

PLUTA: And that's why she says the availability of flavored vaping products is a public health emergency. Once the order is issued, vaping stores will have 30 days to comply. They will still be allowed to sell e-cigarettes and vaping products, just not the candy flavors that public health experts say are such a draw to young consumers.

The rule would also place restrictions on how e-cigarettes are marketed. For example, ads that say vaping is a safe alternative to smoking will be banned. Some local governments across the country have bans on selling e-cigarettes, but no state has successfully banned vaping products, according to an industry spokesman.

Gregory Conley is with the American Vaping Association. He argues that Michigan's ban would be illegal because a governor does not have that kind of unrestricted power. And he says it's a bad idea.

GREGORY CONLEY: Bans on adult products, going and doing a backdoor prohibition on over 90% of the vaping products available in Michigan today is just going to send ex-smokers back to smoking cigarettes, and it will result in hundreds of small businesses throughout Michigan closing their doors.

PLUTA: Conley says Michigan can expect a court challenge if this rule is filed and enforced, as well as an intensive lobbying effort aimed at ensuring this temporary order from the governor remains exactly that - temporary.

For NPR News, I'm Rick Pluta.

(SOUNDBITE OF EVOLUTION OF STARS' "PRETENDING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.