Trump administration officials, alarmed by new data showing a huge jump in e-cigarette use by young people, said they are moving to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, a major development that could result in sweeping changes in the burgeoning e-cigarette market.
In a White House appearance Wednesday that included first lady Melania Trump, Health and Human Services Alex Azar and acting Food and Drug Commissioner Norman “Ned” Sharpless, President Trump said, “We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our kids be so affected.” He added that the first lady, who has followed reports of the recent spate of lung illnesses linked to vaping and Tuesday tweeted about the dangers of vaping, “feels very, very strongly about it.”
//We’re looking at vaping very strongly. It’s very dangerous. Children have died. People have died. And the acting commissioner is a true expert on it. as much as you can be an expert on a brand new subject…. It’s not a wonderful thing. It’s got a big problem. We hope parents will make a wide decision.”
Azar, during the White House meeting, told reporters that said the Food and Drug Administration in the next several weeks will finalize a plan that would require the removal of most flavored-e-cigarettes from the market. Under the plan, which would like take effect 30 days after the plan was released, flavored e-cigarette products wouldn’t be permitted back on the market until — and if — they received specific approval from the FDA.
The new policy wouldn’t affect tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, whose manufacturers would have until next May to file for approval.
Matt Myers, president of the anti-tobacco group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the plan is a “long way from the finish line,” but added, “if in fact they pull flavored e-cigarettes from the market it is an extraordinary step in the face of a real crisis.” He said that flavored e-cigarettes are fueling the a youth-use epidemic “which apparently has gotten dramatically worse over the last year.”
He was referring to new data, announced by the administration Wednesday, that showed that youth vaping jumped in 2019 after rising sharply the year before.
That survey, called the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that more than a quarter of high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days — up from a little over a fifth in 2018. The overwhelming majority of students said they used fruity or menthol or mint flavors.
The Vapor Technology Administration, an industry group, said it would be a “public health travesty” to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Such “government overreach” will result in the closure of thousands of small vape shops and force many Americans “to switch back to deadly cigarettes.”
Gregory Conley president of the American Vaping Association, a consumer group, “In the history of the United States, prohibition has never worked. It didn’t work with alcohol. It hasn’t worked with marijuana. It won’t work with e-cigarettes.”
“Vaping targets kids, and these flavors—mint, menthol, gummy bear, Unicorn Milk, lung candy—have been essential to the industry luring children into this new addiction. I will closely review FDA’s guidance. Finally, the FDA is doing its job,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) who recently told Sharpless to ban flavors or resign.
John Wagner and Lena Sun contributed to this report.