WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – President Donald Trump and the head of the FDA are planning to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid an outbreak of serious lung illnesses and a surge in underage vaping.
According to government studies, more than 80% of underage users say they picked e-cigarettes because of the flavors. Sweet and fruity vaping flavors could soon be off shelves.
President Donald Trump said his administration is moving to ban all non-tobacco flavors used in e-cigarettes. “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth affected,” the president stated.
It comes amid an outbreak of serious respiratory illnesses tied to vaping. At least six people have died and nearly 500 have fallen ill.
The cases, both confirmed and under investigation, spread across 42 states. Many involved young, previously healthy people who’d viewed vaping as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. Now, it’s prompting lawmakers to push for action.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) said, “Vaping is now the Wild West of the new nicotine addiction era.”
Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) said, “I think we have to ask ourselves, ‘How do we keep young people from being drawn into these products, the flavors that are sometimes advertised,’ I mean, some of the names are alarming. They’re clearly focused on children.”
The FDA is now developing guidelines to remove the thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes and will roll those out in the coming weeks followed by a 30-day compliance period for retailers.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said, “At that point, all flavored e-cigarettes other than tobacco flavor would have to be removed from the market.”
And, the FDA said, if the ban prompts young people to begin using tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, similar action may follow.
The FDA said manufacturers could apply to have their flavored products re-enter the market but would have to prove that it is beneficial to the public.