By MATTHEW PERRONE from Associated Press January 2, 2020 GMT
In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass. The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes that are popular with high school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
(AP) — U.S. health officials will ban most flavored e-cigarettes
popular with underage teenagers, but with major exceptions that benefit
vaping manufacturers, retailers and adults who use the nicotine-emitting
Trump administration announced Thursday that it will prohibit fruit,
candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes
that are popular with high school students. But menthol and
tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market.
flavor ban will also entirely exempt large, tank-based vaping devices,
which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.
the two exemptions represent a significant retreat from President
Donald Trump’s original plan announced four months ago, which would have
banned all vaping flavors — including menthol — from all types of
e-cigarettes. The new policy will preserve a significant portion of the
multibillion-dollar vaping market. And the changes are likely to please
both the largest e-cigarette manufacturer, Juul Labs, and thousands of
vape shop owners who sell the tank-based systems, which allow users to
mix customized flavors.
are battery-powered devices that typically heat a flavored nicotine
solution into an inhalable aerosol. They have been pitched to adults as a
less-harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes, but there is
limited data on their ability to help smokers quit.
Food and Drug Administration has struggled for years to find the
appropriate approach to regulating vaping. Under current law, all
e-cigarettes are supposed to undergo an FDA review beginning in May.
Only those that can demonstrate a benefit for U.S. public health will be
permitted to stay on the market.
have to protect our families,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday, ahead
of the announcement. “At the same time, it’s a big industry. We want to
protect the industry.”
flavor ban applies to e-cigarettes that use pre-filled nicotine
cartridges mainly sold at gas stations and convenience stores. Juul is
the biggest player in that market, but it previously pulled all of its
flavors except menthol and tobacco after coming under intense political
scrutiny. Many smaller manufacturers continue to sell sweet, fruity
flavors like “grape slushie,” “strawberry cotton candy” and “sea salt
flavor restrictions won’t affect the larger specialty devices sold at
vape shops, which typically don’t admit customers under 21. These
tank-based systems allow users to fill the device with the flavor of
their choice. Sales of these devices represent an estimated 40% of the
U.S. vaping business, with sales across some 15,000 to 19,000 shops.
the new policy represents the federal government’s biggest step yet to
combat a surge in teen vaping that officials fear is hooking a
generation of young people on nicotine. In the latest government survey,
more than 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in
the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.
Late last month Trump signed a law raising the minimum age to purchase
all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 nationwide.
will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and
evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further
actions as necessary,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar
said in a statement. Companies that don’t stop making and distributing
the restricted products within 30 days risk penalties by the FDA,
including fines and seizures.
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the government’s approach attempts
to balance the problem of underage vaping with “the potential role that
e-cigarettes may play in helping adult smokers transition completely
away” from regular cigarettes.
the decision to permit menthol and exempt tank-based vapes was
immediately condemned by anti-tobacco advocates who have lobbied the
Trump administration to follow through on its initial pledge to ban all
flavors except tobacco.
the elimination of all flavored e-cigarettes can end the worsening
youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarette companies from luring
and addicting kids with flavored products,” said Matthew Myers, of the
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement.
group and others have long opposed all flavors in tobacco products,
including menthol in traditional cigarettes. They argue that teenagers
who vape will simply shift to using menthol if it remains on the market.
Trump officials first sketched out their plans at a White House event
in September they specifically said menthol would be banned. But that
effort stalled after vaping proponents and lobbyists pushed back and
White House advisers told Trump that a total flavor ban could cost him
groups including the Vapor Technology Association launched an aggressive
social media campaign — #IVapeIVote — contending that the plan would
force the closure of vaping shops, eliminating jobs and sending users of
electronic cigarettes back to traditional smokes.
initial announcement came amid an outbreak of unexplained lung
illnesses tied to vaping. But since then health officials have tied the
vast majority of the cases to a contaminating filler added to illicit
THC vaping liquids. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes users
feel high. Makers of legal nicotine-based vaping products have tried to
distance themselves from the problem.
Trump suggested ahead of the announcement that the flavor restrictions might be temporary.
if everything’s safe, they’re going to be going very quickly back onto
the market,” he told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.