WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – President Donald Trump said Wednesday his administration will propose banning thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes to combat a recent surge in underage vaping.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what’s happening.
“We want to have parents understand that we’re studying it very carefully. It’s again, very new and potentially very bad,” Trump said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that his agency and the Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco, from the market.
It will take several weeks to develop the proposed flavor restrictions, which will be subject to public input before taking effect.
Trump’s comments on vaping, the first of his presidency, come as health authorities investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified, though many cases involve marijuana vaping devices.
The proposal announced by Trump officials would only apply to nicotine vaping products, which are regulated by the FDA.
The FDA has had the authority to ban vaping flavors since 2016, but has resisted calls to take that step.
Instead, the agency previously said it wanted to study the role of flavors in vaping products, including whether they help adult smokers quit traditional cigarettes.
But parents, politicians and health advocates have increasingly called for a crackdown on flavors, arguing that they are overwhelmingly to blame for a recent surge in underage vaping by U.S. teens.
A ban on flavors would represent a huge blow to the vaping industry, including companies like Juul, which has grown into a multibillion dollar business by selling mint, fruit and dessert flavored-nicotine products.