LANSING, Mich. (Detroit News Watch/ AP) — A northern Michigan vape shop owner sued Wednesday to stop the state’s ban on flavored electronic cigarettes.
The emergency rules were issued last week and retailers must comply starting Oct. 2.
Mark Slis, who operates 906 Vapor in Houghton, says the rules are illegal and will force him to close his store.
He filed the lawsuit in Houghton County Circuit Court and it is believed to be the first of what could be several legal challenges against the ban that was announced by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“The emergency rules fail to take into consideration the impact banning flavored vapor products will have on the overall Michigan population, including adult former smokers like me,” he wrote in an affidavit attached to the suit, which seeks an injunction. He noted that selling e-cigarettes to minors already is illegal, and that his shop routinely checks the ID of any customer who appears to be under age 30.
The suit contends that the rules are procedurally and substantially invalid, and that officials should not have circumvented the regular rule-making process. Slis say the state cannot prohibit adult use for “an extremely narrow subgroup of the public” and argues that many of the estimated 500,000 users of vaping products in Michigan rely on them to quit smoking tobacco.
Slis said at least 80% of his inventory is prohibited under the ban, and his business cannot survive without selling flavored vaping products.
Whitmer has accused companies of using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to “hook children on nicotine.” Her spokeswoman Tiffany Brown declined to comment on the suit but said Whitmer “is fully committed to protecting children and public health.”
The state Department of Health and Human Services, which issued the rules at Whitmer’s direction, is named as the defendant in the case.
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