LANSING – State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) announced a three- bill package of legislation — House Bills 5686, 5687 and 5688 — that includes regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco, taxing e-cigarette devices and refill liquid, and dedicating a portion of the tax revenue generated to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund, the state Smoking Prevention Program and to a fund dedicated to the state match requirement for the Healthy Michigan Plan.
“As Gov. Rick Snyder has argued for some time now, e-cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products because that’s what they are: no matter if the liquid is labeled ‘grape flavor’ or ‘clown candy flavor,’ they generally still contain nicotine,” said Yanez. “My bills regulate these devices and liquids as tobacco and will keep them out of the hands of our kids.”
According to 2016 statistics from the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, Michigan is the only state not to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers go on to say that e-cigarette fluid, also referred to as vapors or aerosols, is not harmless water vapor because it can contain toxic heavy metals such as chromium and lead. According to the Youth Tobacco Survey, electronic smoking device usage among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.[i] Among high school students from 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette usage jumped 900 percent.[ii]
“In addition to protecting our kids from these devices, which evidence suggests can be a gateway toward smoking cigarettes, my plan also taxes e-cigarettes and fluids and uses that revenue to help firefighters facing cancer as a result of their jobs,” said Yanez. “The existing fund to help firefighters has never had any money appropriated to it, and giving this fund the first $3 million in tax revenue will be a good start to help our firefighters. The bulk of the tax revenue will go toward funding the Healthy Michigan Plan and the state’s Smoking Prevention Program to keep kids from ever starting the dangerous and unhealthy practice of smoking.”
Other bills in the package:
- Require electronic smoking devices and e-liquids to comply with child-resistant packaging regulations
- Increase penalties on unscrupulous retailers who sell tobacco products to minors
- Place restrictions on the ability of vendors to sell these products though vending machines
“E-cigarettes aren’t the benign products their manufacturers would have us believe,” said Yanez. “We know that smoking is bad for you, and we’ve restricted cigarettes and tried to keep them out of the hand of our kids. It’s time to do the same with e-cigarettes, which are just another way to turn kids and adults into smokers. Even if the recent FDA ruling on e-cigarettes stands, state law still needs to be amended for regulatory and taxation purposes. The state of Michigan still has an important role to play in this issue and we need to act now,” said Yanez.
[i] CDC Press Release, “E-Cigarette use triples among middle and high school students in just one year,” Thursday, April 16, 2015.
[ii] Vox Science and Health, “FDA tobacco Czar explains the agency’s new clampdown on E-cigarettes,” Monday, May 9th, 2016.