A Michigan House of Representatives committee will hold a public hearing this Thursday, Sept. 12, to discuss Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announced ban on flavored vaping products. The meeting is open to the public.
The House Oversight Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. in Room 326 of the House Office Building, 124 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing, 48933. Whether or not you attend, you should send a comment by email to the committee clerk that will become part of the official record. CASAA has issued a second call to action with a prewritten message (which you can customize, add to, or replace if you choose to).
The committee is chaired by Rep. Matt Hall, a Republican from Marshall. Republicans hold a majority in the Michigan House, but apparently opponents of Whitmer’s action have little power to challenge a public health emergency declaration by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which is the basis for Gov. Whitmer’s ban.
“Governor Whitmer’s declaration to ban an entire industry without public comment lacks the transparency that citizens deserve from their government,” Rep. Hall said in a statement. “There needs to be more accountability, which is why the House Oversight Committee will hold a public hearing this week. Regardless of one’s stance on flavored nicotine vaping products, the governor should have at least provided ample opportunities for people to have their voices heard.”
Whitmer announced the ban on Sept. 4. It will prohibit sales and possession of flavored e-liquid and vaping products—including mint and menthol. The governor’s emergency powers last for six months, and can be renewed once. The preliminary version of the rules prohibits both in-store and online sales, and even makes possession of more than four flavored vapor products a misdemeanor punishable by fines or prison.
The ban will take effect when the DHHS issues the final rules, which could take a few weeks. Once the final rules are certified by the Secretary of State, retailers will have 30 days to sell existing stock. The DHHS will develop permanent rules during the six-month temporary ban.
Gov. Whitmer’s executive action will not affect the sales of flavored combustible tobacco products like menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and hookah tobacco.
Michigan’s smoking rate is higher than the national average. More than 19 percent of Michigan adults smoked in 2017. More than 16,000 die from smoking every year.
The emergency declaration bypasses the normal legislative process, and allows the governor to use a finding by her own executive agency (DHHS) to create what are essentially laws—all without public input or debate in the legislature. Objecting to unchecked executive authority isn’t necessarily partisan; some Michigan Democrats have indicated that they too are unhappy with the governor’s autocratic exercise of power.
In addition to the call to action linked above (sending an email to the committee clerk), CASAA is maintaining its original call to action, which allows Michigan residents to message the governor, and their state representative and senator. Please complete both!
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