Trump administration aims to ban flavored e-cigarettes

The Trump administration is trying to ban all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market, President Trump declared during an Oval Office meeting on e-cigarettes. It’s a move aimed at dissuading children from picking up the habit of vaping.

Mr. Trump, who unexpectedly summoned reporters Wednesday to the Oval Office for a meeting on e-cigarettes that wasn’t on his public schedule, said he wants parents to know his administration is carefully reviewing e-cigarettes. The products have been linked to a number of lung-related diseases and deaths recently.

“We may very well have to do something very, very strong about it,” the president told reporters.

“We can’t allow people to get sick,” he said. “People are dying.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar elaborated on plans for the FDA to develop guidelines to remove all e-cigarette flavors except plain tobacco from the market. Azar insisted to reporters that the administration is well within its rights to do so, telling reporters the Obama administration allowed the products to go to market without enough certainty that they were safe.

Only a day earlier, first lady Melania Trump tweeted out her concern about children vaping, raising eyebrows as to whether the administration might be pursuing something. The first lady was seated by the president’s side in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Azar told reporters after the Oval Office meeting that the first lady has been “very involved” in the effort.

“I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children,” the first lady wrote. “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. @HHSGov

The FDA intends to finalize a policy that will prioritize enforcement pre-market requirements. The FDA says it will have more specific details on implementation shortly.

It doesn’t appear tobacco companies were given a heads-up. When CBS News called one of the major tobacco companies to request a comment, the media affairs official who picked up the phone responded, “oh, wow.”

Several former Trump administration officials have gone on to work for JUUL, the top seller of e-cigs.

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