This week enforcement of Michigan’s emergency ban on flavored ecigarettes, commonly called “vapes” will begin. The ban, however, is not permanent but could be extended indefinitely. And I personally hope it is extended, because smoking cigarettes is a terrible addiction, and I think vaping is becoming one, as well as a serious social health issue as well.
As a reformed smoker, one who wants to stay off cigarettes and the grip nicotine had on me, I hate to think of today’s youth – which the ban is aimed at mostly in my opinion – getting hooked on vaping. Yes, I realize that you have to be an adult to vape, but kids are still doing it, and in record numbers. Most smokers didn’t start when they turned 18.
There reports around the country, including at school districts in Iosco County, of youth who are addicted to vaping and do so at schools to the point that districts are considering, and in some cased, installing “vape detectors” in an effort to stop students from doing it in the school and all together.
What is more is the “safe” alternative to smoking, has been pegged as a catalyst for a series of respiratory illnesses and deaths across the country.
Under the emergency guidelines, which were issued earlier in September by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, retailers face heavy fines and penalties, and even jail time, if they sell flavored ecigarettes or flavored vaping oil.
According to the Detroit Free Press, which has summarized the rules of the new ban retailers and vape sellers and distributors “will not be able to characterized vape products as safe, clean, harmless or healthy.”
The big thing with the ban is they cannot “sell, offer to sell, distribute or possess with intent to sell any ecigarette product that has a ‘characterizing flavor’ other than nicotine.”
According to the information this includes “any flavors related to any food or drink, such as fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, desserts, alcoholic beverages, mint, menthol, wintergreen, herbs or spices.”
There are also restrictions on where vaping products can even be advertised. The ban will last until March, and then be extended for up to six months, and eventually implemented permanently. There are already two Michigan shops that sell the products filing legal challenges to the ban, as well as lawmakers looking to outright stop the ban, or to modify it so adults can still have access to flavored ecigarettes that have 2 percent nicotine or less.
Part of Whitmer’s ban has to do with the flavoring attracting youth to smoking. According to a study cited by the state, 81 percent of youth who begin smoking ecigarettes begin with flavored ecigarettes. There are also rising numbers in many parts of the state. Between 2015-16 and 2017-18, many areas showed from 30 to 118 percent increases in youth using vaping products. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, there are 3.8 million youth actively using ecigarettes in the United States, as of 2018.
I personally don’t know why I began smoking as a kid at 14, though I know I struggled for years to quit, did so, and then was lured back into it by addiction. Those who have been addicted to smoking, and have tried to quit over the years, know exactly what I am talking about. It is extremely good to quit for your health, because smoking irrefutably caused cancer.
Then there is the fact cigarettes are expensive. If you’re buying a good name brand of cigarettes you’re spending more than $7 a day. If you’re at a pack a day that’s more than $49 you are spending a week for an addiction that will give you cancer. That’s $2,548 a year you are paying to slowly kill yourself.
Years ago ecigarettes were billed as a safe alternative to smoking, and over the years people who have been addicted to smoking have went to them as a way to stop smoking. In a lot of cases it has worked for them and they’ve stopped smoking regular and ecigarettes as they’ve kicked the habit.
That’s amazing, but this was before the widespread culture of vaping took root in the country. I think the advent of vaping “rigs” or the battery operated vaping oil burners – ones that produce huge amounts of smoke – and flavored ecigarette oil have attracted youth.
I mean go to YouTube and you can find legit professional competitions of vaping smokers doing their best to blow smoke rings in a show that could fit right in with ESPN2. One day I was sitting behind a car in a McDonalds drive-thru and I saw massive amounts of smoke billowing from the car in front of me. It wasn’t a catastrophic failure of the engine, it was someone vaping in the car and blowing their smoke from the window. I thought it was a novelty, but I have to admit that 16-year-old Jason would have thought it was awesome and would have wanted to do that as soon as possible.
That combined with flavors like “fruity pebbles” and I would have been hooked from the start. I think this gives youth a chance at a clean slate on a product that we really don’t know the long-term health effects of yet. I support the efforts of the state to curb vaping and hope it works out well in helping youth and adults to kick the habit.