(WWJ) A change.org petition to overturn Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s sudden decision to ban flavored e-cigarettes is burning up the charts, garnering more than 18,000 signatures in two weeks.
The goal is to get 25,000 signatures.
“It’s a freedom that should not be determined by the government,” wrote Jenny Reffitt.
Whitmer signed the ban on flavored e-cigarettes Sept. 4, 2019, after a handful of mysterious vape-related deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations were reported.
Creators of the anti-ban petition say it’s going to destroy small vape shops, and increase the sale of tobacco products.
“This is not only going to severely hurt many businesses but encourage the use of actual tobacco products resulting in the state profiting from the taxes,” the petition says. “Flavored e-cigarettes are not about the state preventing kids from vaping.
“If it was fruity alcohol would be banned to prevent kids from drinking. This is all about the state making money and in the end this will hurt everyone who owns an e-cigarette business or works in the business. The petition is to tell the Michigan State Government we do not want this law in place that is going to increase tobacco sales and hurt small business owners.”
Chase Elrod of Jackson, Mich., created the petition to convince lawmakers to reconsider the state’s position.
“My goal is to be able to sit down with the state officials of Michigan and have a factual discussion about why the ban was undemocratic, but also factual information about vaping and the misconstrued health issues those hospitalized have had that has been so popular lately,” he wrote. “To conclude, the hospitalizations were due to black market THC cartridges as reported by the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Yet our state officials believe that these hospitalizations were due to e-cigarette nicotine devices, which is false.”
Gary Anderson said he signed to help the governor understand the benefits of vaping.
“I started smoking when I was 15 or 16. I tried to quit numerous times, failing each time. I started vaping on January 2nd 2019 and haven’t had a cigarette since,” he said. “I feel like a completely different person now with more energy, no more persistent coughing and other characteristics of a long time smoker. I guess I should add that I will be 67 years old in December. All I can say is I wish I had known about vaping years ago. Please do not take this tobacco cessation alternative away from the people who choose this method to save their lives.”
The ban, the first in the U.S., goes into effect immediately, although businesses will have 30 days to comply. It will last for six months, then can be renewed for another six months. Beyond the petition, some expect a legal challenge to emerge against the ban.
“In our view this is nothing more than a shameless backdoor attempt at prohibition,” said Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association. “Governor Whitmer is not a queen, she’s not a king, she can’t just decide one day to ban an adult product that’s used by likely hundreds of thousands of Michigan adults every single month.”
On the other hand, the Michigan League for Public Policy said it joins health groups and children’s advocates around the state and the country in “applauding Whitmer’s efforts to end dangerous vaping and e-cigarette use amongst young Michiganders.”
“With sweet and enticing flavors, questionable health claims and intentional marketing and advertisements targeting our kids, vaping is picking up right where traditional tobacco products left off and elected officials, public health advisors and child advocates are having to fight the same battles all over again. And what’s at stake—kids’ lives and healthy futures—is still the same, too,” said the League’s COO Karen Holcomb-Merrill.