Judge denies GR vape shop’s emergency request to stop ban

Posted at 12:11 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 17:22:31-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids vape shop is suing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s health department to stop the ban on flavored electronic cigarettes.

In a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 27, Mr. E-Liquid claims complying with the ban would force the business to close if it cannot manufacture and sell e-liquid.

The lawsuit says the state didn’t follow the timeline it set during press conferences after the ban was announced, adding more difficulty for stores to comply with the emergency rules.

By midnight Tuesday, all stores must sell or destroy all flavored nicotine products, or ship them to an out-of-state location. Shops also must ensure all advertisements for vapor products are at least 25 feet from the cash register or soft drinks and sell, ship or destroy any vapor products that have “imagery explicitly or implicitly representing a characterizing flavor.”

Mr. E-Liquid says it has over $500,000 worth of product scheduled to be shipped out of Michigan Monday afternoon at a significant cost and has been forced to pay employees more overtime to ensure it complies with the emergency rules in time.

“If the Emergency Rules go into effect, Mister E-Liquid will be forced to shut down, lay off its employees, and move its entire operation outside of Michigan,” the lawsuit says.

Mr. E-Liquid manufactures e-liquid and sells it to customers in other states and countries. The company says the manufacturing portion of the business is the “backbone of the company” and it cannot survive in Michigan without being able to make e-liquid.

The lawsuit says multiple employees reached out to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to get clarification on several rules, but never received a response.

The lawsuit says the emergency rules are unconstitutional and seeks an injunction on the enforcement the emergency rules.

On Monday, a judge denied the emergency request and said it wasn’t filed with sufficient time for the state to respond. The judge gave the state 14 days from when it was served with the lawsuit to file a response to the request for an injunction.

A shop in northern Michigan has also filed a lawsuit attempting to stop the ban in a separate case. The judge in that case also denied an emergency injunction.

That case has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the first day of the ban.

Defend MI Rights Coaltion, an organization of civil liberties and small business advocates that oppose the vape ban, released a statement on the injunctions being declined:

“Hundreds of Michigan small business owners are now confronted with a difficult decision: shutting the doors of their business or be charged with a misdemeanor. Those who use vapor products also have a choice: whether or not to buy black market products. Our hope is that there is still time for a legislative remedy to this situation – one that doesn’t require 700 Michigan businesses to close their doors. We should be more focused on preventative measures to help educate kids on the dangers of underage use, rather than a blanket ban that will push otherwise law-abiding people to black market products and combustible cigarettes.”

In response to the lawsuit, a state spokesperson said:

“We continue to review the lawsuit with our clients and will be making a determination as to next steps in tandem with them.”