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White House Is Considering a Federal Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes

President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar talk to the media in the Oval Office, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, at the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar talk to the media in the Oval Office, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, at the White House in Washington.
Photo: Evan Vucci (AP)

Amid a spike in the use of electronic cigarettes among teens and children, President Donald Trump has announced the Food and Drug Administration is considering yanking all non-tobacco flavored e-cigs from the market.

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The announcement was made Wednesday and follows a series of threats from agency officials that such a move was imminent if companies like Juul did not do more to help curb the alarming rise of vape products among youth. Trump said during a Q&A in the Oval Office that in the next “couple of weeks” regulators are going to have some “very strong recommendations.”

He also said of vaping: “It’s not a wonderful thing. It’s got big problems.”

On Tuesday, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted that she was “deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children,” adding: “We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

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The FDA has said that flavored e-cigs are particularly problematic, as fruity flavors like mango can appeal to teens and children. The agency has also said that kids who first try a flavored tobacco product rather than a non-flavored one are more likely to become a tobacco user than those whose first tobacco product wasn’t flavored. Easily concealed, USB-style products like Juul are also credited with a rise in vaping among youth. Juul has regularly come under fire by the FDA for appealing to kids.

The FDA on Monday issued a warning to Juul over its marketing practices and accused the company of claiming that its e-cigs were less harmful than traditional cigarettes, a claim the company has not been authorized to make. The agency also slammed the company over an incident in which a Juul representative visited a classroom and told kids that Juul was “totally safe.” In a statement, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said that the spike in youth use of e-cigs continues to climb, “especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”

Last week, Michigan became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, citing a rise of use among youth. In a statement at the time, Governor Gretchen Whitmer accused tobacco companies of “using candy flavors to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe.”

In June, San Francisco banned the sale of all e-cigarettes, becoming the first major city in the United States to do so.

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DISCUSSION

I get the concern about young kids using these things, but a ban seems premature, considering the fact that nobody has been able to determine exactly how those who have gotten sick or died is related to their vaping. It’s clear that more research is needed (including whether or not those getting sick/dying are using black market vape products).