Michigan Legislation Targets Vape Flavors with Proposed Ban and 57% Tax Implementation

A slew of bills that aim to make popular flavored vapes and other low-risk nicotine products inaccessible to the public and price the remaining products beyond the means of many consumers have been introduced by politicians in Michigan.
Michigan Legislation Targets Vape Flavors
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Impact Vapers In Michigan What Impact Will These Measures Have on Vapers in Michigan?
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A slew of bills that aim to make popular flavored vapes and other low-risk nicotine products inaccessible to the public and price the remaining products beyond the means of many consumers have been introduced by politicians in Michigan. The measure is comparable to other bills that have been presented in the state and is supported by activist groups that oppose vaping and tobacco use.

Several items in the eight-bill bundle will have a detrimental effect on vapers and users of other low-risk nicotine products:

  • Outlaws tobacco tastes in all items containing nicotine and tobacco (SB 649)
  • Imposes a 57 percent wholesale tax on all smokeless tobacco, nicotine pouches, and vaping items (SB 648)
  • Potential restriction on consumer internet sales (SB648)
  • Repeals the exemption of local laws governing tobacco and e-cigarette goods (SB 647)

A call to action has been released by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), urging citizens of Michigan to get in touch with their state lawmakers and request that they support the measures opposing the flavor ban and fee. In a matter of seconds, vapers and other proponents of harm reduction can send a pre-written message from CASAA, replace it with their own words, or alter it completely.

The Michigan Senate's Committee on Regulatory Affairs has been tasked with overseeing the measures. There are currently no planned committee hearings on the legislation. The state Senate will reconvene on January 10.

What Impact Will These Measures Have on Vapers in Michigan?

The taste prohibition and tariff would drive many vapers back to smoking and create a black market for items that are generally accepted to be less dangerous than combustible tobacco, even though some of the regulations would not have much of an impact on adults who rely on vaping products. One of the highest wholesale taxes on vape products in the nation would be 57 percent.

If approved, the flavor ban and tax would likely force the closure of the majority of vape shops and end the sale of flavored vape and nicotine pouches in convenience stores and other establishments. Consumers in rural places would suffer particularly if lawmakers were to succeed in outlawing online sales. A large portion of the market would then shift underground, where taxes are not collected and age restrictions are disregarded, similar to other jurisdictions that have outlawed flavored vape products.

While many other Michigan vapers would be forced to switch back to smoking or purchase possibly subpar items from black market dealers, residents of Michigan who live close to the borders of Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin would continue to have easy access to popular vape products offered in those states.

According to research, vapes and cigarettes are comparable economically; when regulations favor one type of product over another, sales of that one type rise while those of the other type fall. Research indicates that levying taxes on e-cigarettes leads to a rise in cigarette sales and smoking, even among minors. Additionally, taste bans enhance smoking.

The tax plan would raise the tax on cigarettes from $2.00 per pack to $3.50, and the proposed flavor prohibition would apply to flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy estimates that 18.2 percent of Michigan residents' 2021 cigarette use includes smuggling, and that percentage is expected to rise to over 30 percent if the increased cigarette tax is passed.

A ban on menthol cigarettes might lead to possibly violent conflicts between police and consumers and staff of minority businesses, in addition to growing the illicit cross-border economy. Most African Americans who smoke cigarettes prefer menthol ones.

Michigan Vapers Versus Governor Whitmer and Tobacco-Free Kids

Since Governor Gretchen Whitmer attempted to outlaw flavors in 2019 with a "emergency" executive order and in 2020 with permanent rules imposed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Democratic state legislators have introduced bills to restrict vaping products in every session since. Michigan vape businesses opposed both.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and other anti-vaping organizations connected to Bloomberg Philanthropies have not given up on their goal to outlaw flavors and enact additional vape regulations in Michigan, even though those efforts were ultimately abandoned in late 2021.

Similar proposals with astroturf backing and marketing endorsed by Tobacco-Free Kids have been introduced in Michigan before. Regarding Columbus, Ohio's attempt to enact a taste ban, as we detailed in 2022, the Washington-based activist group is in charge of the entire campaign, with financial support from billionaire Michael Bloomberg's foundation.

The Keep MI Kids Tobacco Free Alliance, an astroturf organization co-chaired by Tobacco-Free Kids regional advocacy director Jodi Radke, is in charge of the operation in Michigan. Parents Against Vaping (PAVe) and Tobacco-Free Kids are promoting the call to action, which involves providing an easy-to-send pre-written letter of support. The Tobacco-Free Alliance not only personally lobbyes lawmakers but also coordinates support and PR efforts for the bill package, including placing op-eds in regional newspapers and arranging local TV news segments.

Though there are close ties between Gov. Whitmer's administration and Tobacco-Free Kids and Bloomberg, it doesn't seem like the current push to tax vapes and outlaw flavors came from the governor's office. She will sign the laws, though, provided they are approved by the state legislature, and she supports them.

Ironically, a large number of lawmakers who are likely to back the proposed Michigan flavor ban also strongly favor the state's legalization of marijuana. State officials permit flavored cannabis goods, such as flavor-infused vape pens and sweets that can't be told apart from real candies.

men - 1 About Author
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Kevin S. is an experienced vape writer and collector of VaporBoss. I have been writing about disposables, e-liquids, and vape coils for half a decade now. With a commitment to accuracy and clarity, I guide readers through the maze of information, providing valuable insights for both beginners and experienced vapers. My writing not only demystifies the technical jargon, but also delves into the cultural nuances, trends, and regulations that shape the ever-evolving vaping community.

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