US to ban flavored vaping products as lung disease cases surge
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday it would soon ban flavored e-cigarette products to stem a rising tide of youth users, following a spike in vaping-linked deaths.
The move could later be extended to an outright prohibition of vaping if adolescents migrate to tobacco flavors, seen as more legitimate products that help smokers quit their habit.
Addressing reporters at the White House, the president said that both he and First Lady Melania Trump were worried as parents of a teenage son about an outbreak of severe lung disease that has killed six people and sickened hundreds.
“We are both reading it,” he said. “A lot of people are reading, people are dying of vaping,” he added, vowing to act.
Trump was accompanied by Ned Sharpless, the acting head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that regulates e-cigarettes and by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who responded to a question about the proposed timeline by saying his agency would issue rules in the coming weeks.
Following the release of new guidance, “there will likely be about a 30-day delayed effective date,” said Azar.
“At that point, all flavored e-cigarettes other than tobacco flavor would have to be removed from the market.”
The agency said in a release that non-tobacco flavors were being targeted for their youth appeal, with preliminary data for 2019 showing that more than a quarter of high school students had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.
The overwhelming majority reported using fruit, menthol or mint flavors.
While tobacco flavors will initially be exempt, manufacturers will still need to apply for FDA approval by May 2020 to continue to sell their products.
But Azar also tweeted: “If data show kids migrating to tobacco-flavored products, we will do what’s necessary to tackle continued youth use of these products.”
The news was a major blow to the burgeoning vaping industry, worth $10.2 billion globally in 2018, according to Grand View Research.