Look, vaping isn’t very good for you. Is it the worst thing you could do to your body? Of course not. But does enthusiastically sucking in a witches brew of chemicals represent an objective health risk? Duh. Still, as anti-vape hysteria ramps up around the country—with executive orders in Michigan, New York, and potentially nationwide as well—it’s become pretty clear that this is all getting pretty fucking ridiculous.
Take, for example, Michigan’s recently enacted e-cig regulations, ordered into effect by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month as part of a broader anti-vape effort to curb usage among minors. As Jesse Kelley and Carrie Wade of the conservative R Street Institute think tank note in a recently published opinion piece for The Detroit News, the new rules criminalize anyone simply owning four or more flavored (that is, anything that isn’t flavorless or simply “tobacco flavored”) vape products, because that person is “presumed to possess said items with the intent to sell.”
It’s at this point that I should note that Juul, arguably the largest and most mainstream e-cig company, sells its pods in packs of four. And what could happen if you’re busted with four mint flavored Juul pods? As Kelly and Wade point out, you’d be on the hook for “imprisonment of six months and a fine per item.”
In other words, owning an over-the-counter pack of Juul pods could land you in jail for almost half the time as child predator Jeffrey Epstein spent behind bars after his first arrest in 2008. Furthermore, Michigan is one of the few states which prosecutes all 17-year-olds as adults.
This is insane. If followed through to maximum effect, Whitmer’s new rules to wean minors off e-cigs could very well create a whole new generation of vape criminals, instead. Have we learned nothing from the abysmal failure that is the war on drugs, which caused prison populations to explode while doing nothing to actually stop people from using?
Vaping isn’t great for you, but neither is smoking, and you can still buy a pack of menthol cigarettes over the counter. Meanwhile, I’d wager that spending time in prison is probably the sort of thing that would mess up a kid’s life way worse than if they suck down four mango-flavored Juul pods in a row.