Michigan Senate OKs e-cigarette ban for minors


LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Michigan lawmakers are again moving to ban minors from using e-cigarettes despite Gov. Rick Snyder’s continued opposition to the legislation because it would exclude the products from being regulated as tobacco under state law.

The state Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously for a bill that would prohibit teens 17 and under from buying the popular devices, which heat a nicotine solution to produce an odorless vapor. Stores also could not sell e-cigarettes to minors under the legislation sent to the House.

“We’re actually for regulation,” said Adam Firer, who owns GRVAPE on Plainfield Avenue. “It’s going to weed out a lot of the people that are in it just to make a buck.”

GRVAPE is one of about half a dozen e-cig shops on Plainfield Avenue in metro Grand Rapids alone. Firer says he refuses to sell to kids under 18.

“Not illegal and morally right are two different things and as a father, it’s not something I would want my daughter doing, period,” Firer said.

The bill’s supporters say Michigan is among seven states where minors can legally buy e-vapor products.

The legislation would make selling e-cigs to minors a misdemeanor for shops who sell to minors and for the minors who buy, with a fine of up to $50. It would also allow judges to order kids to do community service.

“The need for it is because it’s important that we protect the safety of our minors out there,” said bill sponsor Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This will prohibit sales of vapor cigs to  minors … and we have a lot of unscrupulous retailers out there that sell.”

Four Mason County teens have recently been hospitalized after using e-cigs with a product called “Darth Vapor,” which the county sheriff says contains synthetic cannabis. He said the product caused the teens to have seizures.

“Definitely when you hear stories like that, it definitely brings some urgency,” Schuitmaker said.

Snyder supports the teen ban. But he vetoed similar legislation in January because he said a provision to not treat e-cigarettes as tobacco would conflict with federal efforts to regulate the popular devices.

A spokesman for the governor said on Wednesday that Snyder hasn’t taken a position on the bill, though he still wants e-cigs listed as tobacco.

Supporters like Firer hope the governor will make the bill law.

“There are a lot of people that are in it just to make money,” Firer said. “When regulations come around, it’d be great to see them go away, to be honest with you.”

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