Grand Rapids company sues over flavored vaping ban

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids vaping shop is suing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her order to ban flavored e-cigarette liquids, saying the rules overstep the state’s bounds.

The suit filed in federal court Friday by Mister E-Liquid LLC also names Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon as a defendant.

Earlier this month, Whitmer ordered MDHHS to come with rules banning flavored e-cigarette products. The rules were issued Sept. 18 and companies were given 14 days to comply. Violators can face a fine or even jail time.

The suit claims that the ban violates federal interstate trade law because its wording is not specific enough. It argues that as written by MDHHS, the rules banning the possession and transport of flavored products for sale don’t indicate that they pertain only to Michigan.

The suit goes on to argue that the state is going too far in limiting what type of language Mister E-Liquid can use on its website to describe its products, saying the state regulations “preempt” federal rules on the matter.

Mister E-Liquid is asking the court to rule that the rules are unlawful and issue an injunction to stop them, as well as make the defendants pay its attorney fees.

The company, which has shops in Grand Rapids, Belmont, Kentwood, Okemos, Niles and two Illinois cities, says it employs 75 people. It says that its online sales to other states make up about 70% of its business. It says that if it can’t sell flavored products, it will go out of business in Michigan and would have to move out of state to survive. Other vape shops have told News 8 the same.

Whitmer’s ban is automatically effective for 180 days but can be extended to six months. MDHHS has already filed to make the rules permanent. There are sure to be more lawsuits to try to stop that from happening.

The Trump administration has also proposed banning thousands of e-cigarette flavors nationwide amid an uptick in breathing illnesses believed to be linked to vaping. As of last week, hundreds of people had been diagnosed and nine had died.

Mister E-Liquid’s lawsuit suggests the illnesses are linked to marijuana oils people are putting in their vaping liquid after they buy it from reputable shops, but federal health officials have not reached a conclusion about the precise cause.

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