Officials with the Trump administration said on Wednesday that the federal government would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, according to media reports. Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Ned Sharpless, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, made the announcement with President Trump in the Oval Office Wednesday morning.
“The vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, like a giant business in a very short period of time. But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” the president said.
“We’re going to have to do something about it,” he added.
Azar said that in the coming weeks the administration would announce a plan to remove most flavored e-cigarettes from the US market. Few details of the plan were revealed on Wednesday, but officials said that it may include a ban on menthol and mint-flavored e-cigarettes, which have been some of the most popular flavors for vaping products.
Azar said in a statement that the administration was acting to protect the health of children.
“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.”
Azar also said that further action would be taken if it becomes apparent that kids are switching to other nicotine products after the ban on flavored vapes goes into effect.
“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,” Azar told reporters.
Earlier this week, Michigan became the first state in the US to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. California, Massachusetts, and New York are considering similar bans on flavored vapes. In San Francisco, where a ban on e-cigarette sales was passed earlier this year, vape manufacturer Juul is hoping to reverse the prohibition through a ballot initiative planned for November.
Government action against e-cigarettes has been spurred by a spate of lung illnesses across the country that have been linked to vaping either nicotine, THC, or both. The Trump administration and the FDA have been under pressure to remove flavored vape products, which are seen as more attractive to children, from the US market. Earlier this week, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois warned that he would call for Acting FDA Commissioner Sharpless’ resignation if the agency did not take action to ban flavored products.
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of people have been taken ill with serious lung problems after vaping. At least six people have died, with the latest death being reported in Kansas on Tuesday.
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