PLATTSBURGH, N.Y., Sept. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a non-profit grassroots consumer organization advocating in support of tobacco harm reduction as a necessary strategy to reduce the early death and disease attributed to smoking, condemns Governor Whitmer’s executive order banning the sale of all flavored nicotine products in Michigan except tobacco flavors as a short-sighted and dangerous response to teen use of vapor products and the current health crisis arising from tainted street products.
CASAA raised awareness of the health issues with illicitly purchased street products before most state health organizations, as it was evident that such illnesses were vastly out of proportion with what clear and convincing scientific evidence – and over a decade of use – shows about the potential harms from vaping. CASAA also promotes a mature adult solution to reduce the harm to America’s youth through experimentation with adult behaviors through risk education including assessment, mitigation, and avoidance. These harm-reduction measures lead the thinking in solving what has become an epidemic of moral panic and confusion for the public regarding adolescent’s experimentation with adult behaviors.
Governor Whitmer’s ban makes Michigan the first state in the nation to become a breeding ground for black market nicotine products. Just as with the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s, Michigan stands poised to recreate its Purple Gang, vending truly unknown products with no quality controls or oversight for consumers and placing an enormous burden on enforcement resources the state cannot afford. The public health effects from the rise of tainted products, organized crime, and the likely increase in smoking will end up orders of magnitude greater than what the Governor sees through blinkered eyes as the problem.
As Alex Clark, CASAA’s CEO, observes:
“Governor Whitmer is leaping to the prohibition endgame without considering the dramatic negative effect this will have on Michigan’s public health. This regulation will shut down vapor shops that are a source of expert instruction and peer-to-peer support among people switching to smoke-free alternatives.
“While many believe that banning flavored vapor products will protect adolescents, it is more likely that prohibition of this magnitude will, instead, hand the marketplace over to underground manufacturers. If there was any policy that would make these products more risky, a flavor ban is at the top of the list. As Michigan and surrounding states are grappling with a mysterious lung disease attributed to illicit THC/cannabis oil cartridges, it is astonishing that any government official would think the state can ban its way out of an increase in youth use.”
There is a solution that reasonable and informed adults can implement that helps solve the two real problems facing Michigan Public Health regarding smoking:
- The first problem is making products which reduce risk by over 95% more available to adults along with truthful information about their benefits vs. smoking and their application as a means to reduce harm for those who smoke that may not be ready to quit. Promoting quality commercial products sold by reputable vendors helps people who smoke have confidence to decide to switch to a reduced harm alternative.
- The second problem has far wider reaching implications to protect Michigan’s youth from the harms of drugs, alcohol, smoking, and teen sex. Addressing the underlying developmental task every teenager needs to learn – honest risk management should be at the forefront of any program targeting these vices. Teaching teens to “take a pause” before acting, to act with sober emotions, sober thinking, and sober actions is an essential step in the transition between childhood and becoming an adult.
CASAA urges every Michigan citizen to take a pause and consider whether going further down the road to prohibition, with all its costs in terms of money and lives, is really what is best. Or is it better to be honest in our dealings with each other, and our teens; showing compassion for those who smoke and are looking for a vastly less harmful alternative. We trust that the People of Michigan will, after sober reflection, choose to oppose their Governor’s ill-conceived action and instead pursue a path that benefits the whole of their population, including teens and people who smoke.
The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization with an all-volunteer board and a grassroots membership of more than 250,000 active members from all walks of life. CASAA is dedicated to ensuring the availability of reduced harm alternatives to smoking and to provide people who smoke and the public with honest information about those products. CASAA will continue its efforts in advocating for more reasonable, ethical, and sensible regulations.