As more research suggests that vaping may be linked to serious health risks, President Donald Trump announced this week that the legal age at which people can purchase e-cigarettes may rise to 21. Trump made the announcement at the White House, following up last year’s announcements and announcements made in September that the Food and Drug Administration are going to take more steps to curb the use of e-cigarettes by minors.
“We’re going to be coming out with a very important position on vaping,” Trump said in a press conference captured by CNBC. “We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so, so we’ll be coming out with something next week very important on vaping.”
The push to limit vaping is a response to a string of recent deaths that appear to be caused by the habit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 39 deaths and 2,051 lung injuries have been linked to e-cigarette use. While long-term studies on the effects of vaping are not yet readily available, the main concern of researchers about vaping by minors is how it often leads to conventional cigarette smoking.
In addition to considering raising the age of legal use of e-cigarettes, Trump announced in September that the FDA was in the process of finalizing a plan to remove all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, from the market. The ban would essentially remove flavored e-cigarettes, which currently appears to be the main appeal of the product among minors, CNBC reports.
Several state and local governments have already raised the smoking age from 18 to 21, and multiple lawmakers have filed federal bills to raise the smoking age. So far, the tobacco industry appears to support the newer restrictions, but Trump admitted that supporting local businesses who depend on the revenue from vaping sales was an important aspect to consider.
“We have a lot of people to look at, including jobs, quite frankly. Because, you know, it’s become a pretty big industry,” said Trump.