Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarette products across the US
Amid the ongoing e-cigarette health crisis in the United States, the Trump administration has announced a plan to effectively remove all non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products from the market. The prospective policy suggests accelerating enforcement of FDA rules already in place that demand premarket authorization for non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products.
In an unexpected Oval Office event, President Trump revealed the new plan, alongside first lady Melania Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless.
“Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it. Like, a giant business. In a very short period of time,” said Trump. “But we can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected. And I’m hearing it, and that’s how the first lady got involved. She’s got a son, together, that is a beautiful young man and she feels very, very strongly about it. She’s seen it, and we’re both reading it. A lot of people are reading it, but people are dying from vaping. So we’re looking at it very closely.”
In an accompanying FDA statement, it is suggested details of this potential ban will be revealed in the coming weeks. But the agency specifies only flavored e-cigarette products containing nicotine will be the focus for enforcement in the near future.
The new proposal rolls on from a 2016 amendment to the Tobacco Control Act requiring all e-cigarette products to file premarket tobacco product applications with the FDA. In 2017 the compliance deadline for e-cigarette products to submit applications was pushed back to 2022. This delay is what spurred the city of San Francisco to institute its own e-cigarette ban, set to commence in 2020.
The focus of the latest move by the Trump administration seems solely focused on combating the increasing use of e-cigarettes by teenagers. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar specifically notes flavored e-cigarettes as a problematic gateway for young people into nicotine addiction.
“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,” says Azar. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
While it is clear that tobacco-flavored e-cigarette liquids and devices will be exempt from any upcoming ban or regulation, many details surrounding the proposed policy are yet to be clarified. And while Trump ostensibly refers to the ongoing public health problem surrounding e-cigarettes as part of his motivation in pushing the regulations, no singular cause has yet been identified to explain the increasing number of vaping-related hospitalizations. In fact, current suspicions as to the cause seem to be homing in on illicit THC vaping liquids containing unregulated chemical additives, suggesting a simple ban on e-cig flavors may not have any effect on the acute crisis currently unfolding.