State Rep. Michael Webber this week voted in favor of a plan to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prevent individuals under 18 from possessing vaping products in Michigan.
Webber, of Rochester Hills, said the number of teenagers who use e-cigarettes has increased dramatically over the past few years, prompting parents, teachers and law enforcement officers to reach out about solving the epidemic before it spirals too far out of control. In one recent study, one in five Michigan high school students reported having used an e-cigarette during the previous 30 days.
“E-cigarette usage is a growing epidemic among Michigan’s youth, and we are hearing concerning stories even of middle school students experimenting with vaping,” said Webber, who serves as the chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee, which passed similar legislation in March. “This is not okay. We must do more to protect our children from these harmful, addictive products and the severe long-term health effects that come with them.”
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and flavoring without burning tobacco. The devices are small and often look harmless – including a version that looks just like a computer flash drive – making them appealing to teens and difficult to detect in schools.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaping nicotine can harm adolescent brain development and lead to addiction. Many vaping products also contain diacetyl, which is commonly associated with “popcorn lung” – a condition that damages airways.
Senate Bills 106 and 155 prohibit minors from purchasing and possessing e-cigarettes and establish penalties for people who sell or give e-cigarette products to minors. The bills also require vapor or alternative nicotine products to be stored behind a counter or within a locked case in stores.
“This solution is the first step toward ensuring these products are not in our kids’ hands and sets the tone that we take e-cigarette usage seriously,” Webber said. “We need to put an end to the misconception that these vaping products are safe – they’re not. I urge the governor to follow suit and swiftly sign this legislation into law.”
Both plans received overwhelming support in the House and now head to the governor for consideration.