The Michigan state legislature continues to advance legislation that falls short of protecting youth from the dangers of e-cigarettes, or “vaping.” While Senate Bill 106 and it’s House companion, House Bill 4164, would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prohibit minors from possessing e-cigarettes, they fall short of regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco products, which, among other things, risks fueling a false narrative among the public that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes.
Supporters of the bills would argue that e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and thus should not be regulated as such. However, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, “studies have shown that vaping by youth is strongly linked to later use of regular cigarettes and other tobacco products. Using e-cigarettes may play a part in a kid or teenager wanting to experiment with other, more harmful tobacco products.” Moreover, according to findings from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, there were “alarming increases in current use of any tobacco product among both middle and high school students between 2017 and 2018, primarily because of an increase in e-cigarette use.”
The undeniable link to tobacco use, coupled with the fact that there is much we don’t know about the health implications of e-cigarettes with the industry being relatively nascent, MSMS is opposing the bills. Instead, we would propose a legislative remedy that regulates these products like harmful tobacco products, a step that mirrors the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s approach. If the state doesn’t take strong measures that demonstrate these products are harmful, the public, and youth in particular, will have a misleading perception that they are safe. MSMS joined other stakeholders in sending a letter to lawmakers to that effect and continues to stand in opposition to the bills moving forward.