Amid some controversy and despite some reservations, Governor Whitmer signed SB 106 and SB 155 on Tuesday, which will prohibit minors (anyone under the age of 18) from possessing e-cigarettes and will prohibit vendors from selling vaping products to the under-aged. While this will undoubtedly help keep vaping products out of schools, the bills regulate e-cigarettes separately from tobacco products, which will muddy the waters since the separate regulation means tobacco taxation and the workplace smoking ban will not apply to e-cigarettes.
For now, what Principals need to know is that the new laws will:
- Take effect on September 2, 2019 (Labor Day), so they will be in place for next school year, but will not have an impact for the remainder of this year or the summer.
- Prohibit a person from selling or giving a vapor product or alternative nicotine product to a minor.
- Increase the monetary penalty for selling, giving, or furnishing a tobacco, vapor, or alternative nicotine product to a minor. Currently, it is a misdemeanor to sell, give, or furnish a tobacco product to a minor, and a violator is subject to a maximum $50 fine for each violation. Under the bill, the fine could be up to $100 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second offense, and up to $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense.
- Require signs posted by retailers to indicate that the purchase of vapor or alternative nicotine products by minors was illegal.
- Require a person to verify that an individual was at least 18 before selling or furnishing a tobacco, vapor, or alternative nicotine product to him or her.
- Prohibit a minor from possessing or using a vapor product or alternative nicotine product. A violation would be a civil infraction for the first and second offenses and a misdemeanor thereafter, each violation punishable by a maximum fine of $50. Pursuant to a probation order, the court also may require a violator to participate in a health promotion and risk reduction assessment program, if available. A court may also order a violator to perform a certain number of hours of community service.
- Prohibit a person from selling a liquid nicotine container in Michigan unless it met Federal child-resistant effectiveness standards.
- Prohibit a person selling vapor products or alternative nicotine products at retail from displaying for sale in Michigan a vapor product unless it was stored behind a counter in an area only accessible by employees or a locked case.
In signing the bills, Governor Whitmer expressed reservations about the way the bills peel off e-cigarettes from the state's tobacco laws regarding taxation, public smoking and advertising. She called on the Department of Health and Human Services to dig into federal recommendations on how states should handle e-cigarettes. So it seems likely that there is more coming in the vaping debate.
MASSP will continue to follow this issue and keep members updates should any additional guidance come out about how schools should handle this issue.