Two states now have bans in place on flavored vaping products. And although prohibition of drugs never works and always leads to unintended consequences, the politicians who have enacted these bans through executive action don’t seem interested in the history of drug prohibition—or the welfare of the people who use the products.
Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services issued?rules prohibiting sales of flavored vaping products (except tobacco) today, just two weeks after being announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Retailers now have just 14 days—not the 30 days originally announced—to sell or remove products before the rule takes effect.
And yesterday New York State’s Public Health and Health Planning Council rubber-stamped Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on flavored vaping products. The New York rule allows the sale of tobacco and menthol flavors. New York vendors also have just two weeks to clear millions of bottles of e-liquid from their shelves.
Dr. Martin explaining why he will NOT vote for the ban. "I'm sorry, I'm just not convinced it's an emergency in the true sense ... This is basically going to be a big public health experiment ... The unintended consequence will be the destruction of an industry."
The convenience stores and gas stations that sell JUUL and vapor products made by tobacco companies will survive the ban, because e-cigarettes are a tiny portion of their business. But dedicated vape shops, which have been serving current and ex-smokers for a decade, have no other products to sell.
For most of them, flavored e-liquid is their most important product, accounting for more than 90 percent of sales, according to several vendors who spoke at yesterday’s New York Public Health and Health Planning Council hearings.
Neither governor followed the normal democratic route of proposing legislation and letting the legislature debate and compromise to reach a workable result—because both governors knew very well that a draconian ban like the ones they proposed would never get through their state legislatures.
Both chose to impose prohibition through executive action by creating “public health emergencies” and bypassing the legislative process. Both bans will be challenged in court. As it stands now, either governor is apparently free to ban any product they don’t like by getting state health agencies to declare a crisis.
The Health Planning Council hearing was streamed live, and vapers across the country and the world watched live as council members fiddled with their phones and looked bored while small business owners and ordinary people who used flavored vapes poured their hearts out in testimony. It was a brutal reminder that people who use nicotine in any form simply aren’t considered to be stakeholders in this debate.
Speakers from special interest groups like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Heart Association took their turns at the microphone to complain that the ban didn’t go far enough, that menthol too must be included. The AHA speaker told the council to ignore the vapers whose “anecdotal stories just muddy the waters.”
And they did ignore them, except for two council members that voted against the ban. The others were pleased to hand Gov. Cuomo a win, and to kill 700 businesses and an unknown number of people who will go back to cigarettes or never get the chance to switch from cigarettes to a safer product.