Monday, September 16, 2019

Under Michigan's New E-Cigarette Flavor Ban, a Youth Caught With a Juul Four-Pack Could Be Put in Prison for Six Months

Michigan's governor is prepared to issue an emergency executive order that would ban the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes effective immediately (once the order is filed). I have already explained why this law will be a public health disaster. It will have three major deleterious health effects:

1. It will cause many ex-smokers to return to smoking as their vaping products are taken off the market.

2. It will create a new black market for flavored e-liquids that does not exist today. As we are finding out, black market products can be extremely dangerous.

3. It will cause many youths who are currently vaping e-liquids to switch to vaping marijuana e-joints that are purchased off the black market (and which are likely responsible for the current epidemic of severe respiratory disease).

The law is also unjustified because it bans flavored e-cigarettes while leaving flavored real cigarettes on the shelves (in the name of menthol cigarettes). So while menthol fake cigarettes will be banned, selling menthol real cigarettes will be just fine. This will certainly harm menthol smokers who want to quit smoking by switching to menthol e-cigarettes.

The Rest of the Story

On top of all of the above, the law will criminalize the mere possession of four or more flavored e-cigarettes. Thus, a high school kid who is caught with a four-pack of flavored Juul pods will be guilty of a crime. An that crime is punishable by up to six months in state prison.

The part of the law that criminalizes the possession of four or more flavored e-cigarettes reads as follows:

"A person who possesses four or more flavored vapor products, or flavored alternative nicotine products is rebuttably presumed to possess said items with the intent to sell."

The rest of the story is that Michigan's proposed flavored e-cigarette ban is terrible public policy that will have terrible public health consequences. It will also potentially criminalize any vaper who possesses four or more flavored e-liquid cartridges or pods. It has taken years to start the process of decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Are we now going to have to do the same thing for the possession of life-saving e-liquids?

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