Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer today declared a public health emergency for those who use e-cigarettes and then moved to ban flavored vaping products. Her ban takes effect immediately but retailers and wholesalers have 30 days to fully comply with the prohibition.
The move targets all sweet flavors that the Governor says attract young people to vaping. So, there will no longer be wild cherry, cotton candy, caramel apple or a host of other favorite flavors on the shelves of vaping liquid. Michigan residents will not legally be able to buy those products on-line either. Whitmer’s decision also covers mint and menthol flavors. In fact, the only vaping flavors she allowed to remain are tobacco flavored liquids.
In announcing the decision, Whitmer proclaimed her number one priority is to keep kids in Michigan safe and added she must also protect the health of all citizens in Michigan.
The American Heart Association is among the groups applauding the Governors move. According to the organization more than 3.6 million middle and high school kids vaped last year and they say Whitmer has taken an appropriate step to address what they call an epidemic of kids vaping.
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Though Whitmer is calling this a public health emergency, the Associated Press last week reported what might be the first death linked to vaping ever. That is a long way from the more than 1,300 Americans that will die today from smoking or the 45 deaths in her own state.
The Governor and others must have decided to ignore the true public health menace of cigarettes, which supporters of vaping say will surely increase soon with the new ban on flavored vaping.
Cigarettes have a dire impact on Michigan and America. Vaping doesn’t even make the common sense list of public health concerns.
More than 16,200 people die in Michigan each year as a direct result of smoking cigarettes according to the anti-smoking website TobaccoFreeKids.org. That means 45 people will die today from the impact of their own smoking. More will die as a result of second-hand smoke.
The negative financial impact from smoking cigarettes in Michigan, like everywhere else is massive. TobaccoFreeKids.org cites daunting figures. The annual healthcare costs stemming directly from smoking in The Great Lakes State is $4.59 Billion dollars. Medicaid costs are $1.36 Billion dollars and lost productivity costs are pegged at $4.78 Billion dollars. In all Michigan pays a steep price over $10 Billion dollars for smoking.
So, what is the real public health emergency?
It is hard to overstate how devastating smoking is on Michigan and the nation. Vaping though concerning doesn’t even begin to rise to this level of destruction of lives and families.
However, there is another component of the conversation that seems to be getting overlooked as well. Tobacco is a great source of revenue for governments large and small all over the country.
In Michigan tobacco taxes bring in well over $900 Million dollars to state government coffers every single year. Than is more than $100 Million dollars more than Michigan collects on businesses each year.
Of the $919 Million dollars collected in tobacco taxes in Fiscal Year 2018-2019 according to the Michigan House Fiscal Agency; schools got $344 Million dollars, Medicaid $330 Million, The General Fund $181 Million and Healthy Michigan nearly $32 Million. The rest went to other various state agencies and funds.
Tobacco is big business. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
One has to wonder, if Governor Whitmer is really concerned about the health of Michigan residents, why didn’t she go for the big prize and declare smoking a public health emergency first? Oh, and did I mention marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use in the state but that also brings in plenty of money and doesn’t rise to the same level of concern as bubble gum flavored vaping liquid.