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Effort underway to regulate e-cigarettes

Lauri Rantala
Wikimedia Commons

There’s a movement in Lansing to regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes. The smokeless devices deliver a nicotine-laced mist that users inhale. The effort has been slowed by a disagreement. It’s about whether e-cigarettes should be regulated and taxed like tobacco, or separately.

Dr. Matthew Davis is Michigan’s chief medical executive. He says e-cigarettes and liquid refills should be classified as tobacco products, “because they are derived from tobacco and the philosophy of their use is side by side with the use of tobacco cigarettes that have been such a source of so much illness and death.”

There are measures before the Legislature that would create separate regulations on e-cigarettes, including a ban on sales to kids.

But some lawmakers say there’s still too little information about the effects of e-cigarettes on people’s health.               

“That’s the issue of whether we get something through to get them out of the hands of minors or whether we go through this protracted battle, and waiting for the feds and waiting for a decision as to whether or not it’s the same as a tobacco product,” said State Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland. “And we chose not to fight that battle now and do the right thing and get them out of the hands of minors.” 

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration wants e-cigarettes taxed like tobacco and subject to smoke-free workplace and clean indoor air laws. The administration says that’s because e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, which is derived from tobacco.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.