Michigan's Dept. of Community health director recommending that governor vetoes legislation that would prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors, prefers alternative proposal that would classify product line as a form of tobacco
Bay City, Michigan
June 22, 2014
(Bay City Times)
– Michigan Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman is recommending Gov. Rick Snyder veto legislation that would prohibit electronic cigarette sales to minors.
Haveman doesn't support youth e-cigarette sales, but he prefers an alternative proposal that would classify the product line as a form of tobacco, which could mean additional regulations in the future once health effects are fully known.
"We think that it's time to take the bigger step. The kids are going to get it anyway, and I don't think this law is going to change it that much," Haveman told reporters Wednesday, saying Snyder was studying the bills and will make the final decision.
"I respect the debate that went on in the Legislature, but I don't think the issue that it's more of a tobacco product got the full hearing that it should have. Maybe we have to go back and review this and we'll continue the dialogue."
A three-bill package that won final approval last week in the state House and Senate would amend the state Youth Tobacco Act to ban the sale of "vapor" or "alternative nicotine" products to anyone younger than 18.
But the legislation also would exclude e-cigarettes from the traditional definition of tobacco, a move that health advocates argue could prevent the state from enacting additional regulations -- such as an indoor ban or even sin taxes -- down the line.
"We don't need higher taxes; we need to keep these out of the hands of children," state Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, who sponsored one of the bills but acknowledged the criticism, said Thursday.
E-cigarettes, a growing segment for big tobacco companies and startups alike, have been promoted as a safer alternative to cigarettes because they vaporize a nicotine liquid and don't create smoke.
Experts say there is not enough research to validate any health claims about e-cigarettes and have criticized colorful advertising that appears to target minors.
Haveman's comments came at the conclusion of an unrelated press conference on state and federal policies to combat obesity, where he promoted Snyder's 4x4 health and wellness plan, which encourages residents to watch their diet, exercise, get an annual physical and avoid all tobacco use.
Dr. Fred J. Van Alstine of Owosso, noting the fourth pillar of the governor's plan, urged Snyder to veto the e-cigarette legislation.
"Every single medical community and organization is opposed to that bill," said Van Alstine, president of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians.
"We would like to see e-cigarettes regulated as tobacco products, because they're addictive and we don't want a whole other generation of addicts. At the risk of getting in trouble, I would encourage Gov. Snyder to veto that bill on e-cigarettes and make it a tobacco product."
"We don't need higher taxes; we need to keep theseout of the hands of children."
State Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, who sponsored one of the bills sent to the governor
James Bearup puffs on an e-cigarette at the Kalamazoo Vapor Shop in July 2011. (MLive.com files)
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