Today, President Trump announced his administration’s plans to ban flavored e-cigarette products. “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” he said in a press conference, reports NBC. “People are dying with vaping, so we’re looking at it very closely.” He added, “It’s not a wonderful thing. It’s got big problems, we’ve got to find out the extent of the problems. It’s so new, it’s so new, but we’re going to find out.”
According to CNBC, the FDA is finalizing guidance to remove all non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products from the market, at least until the FDA clears them for sale. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating over 450 cases of lung disease suspected to be vaping-related. Six deaths have also been reported.
U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar told reporters that the administration plans to ban flavored products in response to their use by minors. According to the CDC, preliminary data shows that over a quarter of high school students have used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days, with the “overwhelming majority” choosing fruit, menthol, and mint-flavored products.
“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Azar said. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
However, Azar added that for now, the administration does not plan to restrict the sale of tobacco-flavored products because of their use by adults as a smoking cessation tool. “If we find that children start surging into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes or if we find marketing practices that target children and try to attract them into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, we will engage in enforcement actions there also,” he said.
Earlier this week, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted, “I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children. We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death.” Similar concerns have been voiced by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. “This has to be dealt with,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), told Politico earlier this week. “I would like to see these e-cigarettes absolutely banned, but part of the problem is, we know so little about what's actually in it.”
Critics of the ban say that the vaping-related illnesses and deaths are caused by knockoff products. “Basically all these vaping-related hospitalizations are directly linked to black-market or knockoff THC oil. The shady stuff & untested devices are what make people sick: banning flavored e-cigs is gonna get ppl back on cigarettes & make the black-market problem way worse,” tweeted the New Yorker’s Jia Toletino, who has reported on the rise of vaping.