Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state's Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have abandoned plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products through permanent rules.
The news was a surprise and was released the day before the scheduled meeting of the Michigan State Legislative Council, which approved the rules proposed by the executive agency. MDHHS sent the final rules to the Michigan State Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) for approval last month.
After the rule was revoked, the relevant meeting was cancelled.
After holding a hearing last fall and accepting public opinion on the proposed rules, the health agency has been working for a year to formulate the final rules. It is heavily promoted by tobacco control and public health organizations, and is led by Jodi Radke, the regional director of the Tobacco Free Kids Campaign.
Whitmer's first attempt to ban condiments was thwarted by e-cigarette stores in Michigan, and they quickly filed a lawsuit.
The agency may have withdrawn the rule after realizing that some members of JCAR would object to the rule. If enough JCAR members object, the process of approving the rules may be slow, and the governor and her health agency may think that another endless fight against the Republican-controlled legislature is not worthwhile.
However, the fragrance ban can still be reintroduced through JCAR, or it can be introduced in a bill by members of the state assembly or the Senate.
At the same time, the Whitmer administration seems ready to support a package of six bills in the legislature that will levy taxes and mandate that only FDA-authorized e-cigarette products can be sold.
"MDHHS is working with our legislative partners to protect young people from the addiction that may be caused by flavored nicotine e-cigarette products," a MDHHS spokesperson told the media. "Due to the progress made in the legislative solution, MDHHS has withdrawn the rules that will be reviewed by the Joint Administrative Rules Committee."
Since midsummer, CASAA has called for action on these bills, urging e-cigarette users in Michigan to oppose taxes and other restrictions. It is not clear whether additional legislation specifically banning fragrances will be introduced, but restrictions on products that have not been expressly approved by the FDA will have almost the same effect.
Whitmer was the first person to ban seasoning in 2019.
Governor Whitmer first tried to implement an emergency-flavored e-cigarette ban through an executive order in 2019, becoming the first of several governors to do so. At the time, the news was full of stories about the evalI outbreak and the teenage e-cigarette epidemic. The ban won Whitmer's recognition and praise within the Democratic Party.
Whitmer's first attempt to ban condiments was thwarted by e-cigarette stores in Michigan, and they quickly filed a lawsuit. After a controversial hearing, Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Michigan State Claims Court approved a temporary injunction that put the governor's rule on hold until the case is resolved.
The injunction was later supported by the state court of appeals, and the Michigan Supreme Court refused to overturn the lower court's ruling.
Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joneigh KhALDun, a so-called medical expert who often defends Whitmer’s flavouring ban rules, recently resigned.