Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (D.) on Wednesday made her state the first to institute an "all-out ban" on the sale of flavored vapes, citing a public health crisis.
"This is the emergency authority that I have as governor," Whitmer said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I'm going to work with the legislature to ensure that we've got it written into statute, but we can't wait on Washington, DC. We have to take action right now."
Whitmer began considering the ban after the United States surgeon general declared in 2018 that there is a nationwide epidemic related to vaping, especially among young people. Whitmer added that earlier this week, her chief medical officer said there is a "public health crisis" in Michigan because of vaping.
"Eighty-one percent of our young kids who start vaping start with a flavoring product, and that's why it's so important we ban this flavored product," Whitmer said. "They market it like it's a healthy alternative that's glamorous, and in fact, our kids are inhaling nicotine, which is addictive, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals and metal particles, and they're ending up in the hospital."
Whitmer said that she hopes the Michigan ban will be the first in a nationwide sweep of action against vapes.
"It would be great if, at the federal level, we know there was a surgeon general warning on all vape products, that they were treated like tobacco, taxed like tobacco," she said. "But none of that is happening, and that's why it's on the states to take action. And as governor, I'm going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law."
In June, Whitmer banned the sale of vapes to minors, but she did not believe these measures went far enough, according to the Detroit News. Her new ban on flavored vapes, enforced by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will last for six months and can be renewed as permanent rules are developed.
Michigan is not the first state to treat vaping as a public health issue. New York has been attempting to ban flavored vapes since 2018, but officials have been unable to move the measure forward because of a "legal review," according to the New York Post.