Vape shop argues flavor ban will force black market

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ron Pease has more than 150 flavors of vape juice lining the shelves at Mr. E-Liquid. His shop will look a lot different after Michigan led the push to ban flavored nicotine vaping products.

With labs based in Grand Rapids, Mr. E-Liquid distributes vape flavorings to several hundred locations around the nation and ships to roughly 50 countries around the world.

But when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the state health department to issue emergency rules prohibiting all flavored nicotine vaping products in the beginning of September, it put a stop to about 80% of Pease’s international business.

“It’s not good for the state, it’s not good for consumers, it’s not good for business,” Pease told the Michigan House Oversight Committee during a hearing earlier this month.

Pease told lawmakers they’re essentially forcing a black market.

“The moment that happens, you no longer have the ability to regulate that. You no longer have the ability to speak openly to the manufacturer and say, ‘Your marketing tactics must change.’ So not only do we have a black market, which is irresponsible for anyone to allow that to happen, you also lose the ability to have any control whatsoever over what’s in the product,” Pease said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released one of the most comprehensive looks at the vaping epidemic, finding the majority of the vapers who reported getting sick had used THC (the chemical that gives marijuana its psychoactive affects) products and that most had reportedly gotten the products from illicit dealers or friends.

“Our product is not what’s causing the issue. I challenge you or anyone to find one case where someone has gotten pneumonia from using our product,” Pease told News 8.

Pease said all of his products are made in a certified lab and labeled in his shop. Each bottle comes with a code that can track each ingredient. He argues the ban wrongfully targets legal businesses like his.

“Industry and government needs to come together and actually draft laws that address the problem rather than a reactionary flavor ban that does nothing to address this problem at all,” Pease said.

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