Whitmer signs key public health bills on tobacco sales and naloxone access


Patrick Jones


With the Michigan Legislature on summer break, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed 2 pieces of public health legislation yesterday. One package raises the state age of requirement to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, and House Bill 5166 expands access to naloxone treatment. 


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“I am signing several bipartisan bills to protect public health and keep dangerous tobacco products out of the hands of our young people,” Whitmer said. “In addition to legislation raising the state minimum age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21, I am proud to sign bipartisan bills today that will expand access to life-saving medication for those experiencing an opioid overdose, crack down on retail crime, protect privacy, and invest in judges to boost retention and get through our case backlog expeditiously. Let’s keep working together to move Michigan forward.” 

The Tobacco 21 package—HB 6108, HB 6109, SB 576, and SB 577—encompasses amendments to the Youth Tobacco Act and the Age of Majority Act of 1971 to raise the minimum legal sale of tobacco, vape products, and other forms of nicotine consumption to those 21 or older.  

The amendment to the Youth Tobacco Act places—through HB 6108—imposes penalties for the sale of tobacco to those under-age at up to $100 on the first offense, up to $500 on the second offense, and up to $2,500 for third and subsequent offenses. 

“The Tobacco 21 package aligns Michigan with progress at the federal level, and is an important step in keeping tobacco products out of the wrong hands,” said Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Clinton Township). “Kudos to Gov. Whitmer for working with me and my colleagues in the legislature to protect our communities and public health across the state.” 

HB 6109 prohibits anyone under 21 from entering a tobacco retail specialty store, and SB 576 amends Michigan penal code to require those who distribute tobacco through mail to verify the recipient is 21.

“Children and teens should not even be exposed to tobacco products. Period,” said Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington. “We have seen study after study showing the effects of nicotine on the developing adolescent brain, and I’m proud to support raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21. There is no doubt this simple change will save lives.” 

Whitmer also signed HB 5166, which allows for the distribution of naloxone—a lifesaving opioid overdose intervention—by community based organizations (CBOs). This Opioid Task Force recommendation protects CBOs from liability that may arise out of its distribution. 

“Since much of the work of naloxone distribution is done by community organizations, this bill will greatly expand access to this safe and lifesaving medication,” said Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “This legislation is the result of months of work I am proud to have been part of on Gov. Whitmer’s Opioid Task Force in partnership with the DHHS, and I’m glad it finally made it through the legislature. Our work isn’t done, but tools like this will help in the fight against the opioid epidemic.” 

According to Rep. Mary Whiteford (R-Allegan), only 25% of opioid users had access to the drug. This legislation will increase needed access to the drug.