Amid vaping-related lung illnesses and multiple deaths around the United States, President Donald Trump’s administration is gearing up to ban flavored e-cigarettes nationwide, officials announced Wednesday.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the Trump administration is preparing the ban and will soon issue new regulatory guidance over vapes. Azar said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started to finalize plans to take flavored e-cigarettes off of the market entirely.
According to Azar, the FDA would take several weeks to approve and finish the process, followed by an additional 30 days before any ban would be effective.
“Nobody knows too much about it, but they do know it’s causing a lot of problems,” Trump said about vaping during a White House appearance Wednesday. “People think it’s an easy solution to cigarettes but it turns out that it has its own difficulties.”
President Trump: "We have a problem in our country. It's a new problem. It's a problem nobody really thought about too much a few years ago and it's called vaping, especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children." pic.twitter.com/jy6msEPcNn
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 11, 2019
Azar said that 5 million children in the United States use e-cigarettes, and the ban on kid-friendly flavors is an attempt to reduce that number.
“Not only is it a problem overall, but really specifically with respect for children,” Trump said Wednesday. “We may very well have to do something very, very strong about it.”
Six vaping-related deaths have been confirmed in six states. Authorities believe certain vaping products — including THC-infused cartridges — can cause rapid and severe lung-related illnesses that ultimately lead to these deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that as of September 6, more than 450 possible vaping-related diseases had been reported spanning 33 states.
Officials are looking at vitamin E oil that is added to some THC vaping cartridges as a possible cause. Patients have reported a variety of symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fatigue, and fever.
The CDC said that it, along with the FDA, is investigating the outbreak of “severe pulmonary disease associated with e-cigarette product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) use.”
The FDA plans to implement new restrictions on e-cigarettes and other forms of vaping in 2021.
While the Trump administration would call for a nationwide ban, some U.S. states and cities have already banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. On September 3, Michigan became the first state to ban flavored electronic cigarettes in response to increased vaping in youth and rising health concerns for all of its residents.
In June, San Francisco became the first city to ban all e-cigarette sales, flavored or otherwise, entirely.
While six deaths compared to the average 480,000 CDC reported cigarette smoking-related deaths don’t necessarily compare, studies about the negative effects of cigarettes have been documented for years, while vaping studies that have been conducted are less than five years old.
Just as cigarette smoking was once considered OK decades ago before research proved otherwise, vaping is the latest health concern that needs more research.
Experts say that it’s too early to tell about the long-term effects vaping has on the body.
A study conducted on vaping by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine took a look specifically at Juul products. The study looked at flavoring chemicals known as acetals that are added into flavored e-cigarette products.
According to NPR, acetals can be found in small amounts of food and other commercial products, but the effects of inhaling such chemicals are not yet fully known and are still being studied.
A Juul spokesperson told Digital Trends, “We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective.”
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