The Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters during an Oval Office appearance with the president, first lady Melania Trump and the acting FDA commissioner, Ned Sharpless.
Trump said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what’s happening. “People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children,” he said.
Melania Trump recently tweeted her concerns over the combination of children and vaping.
I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children. 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
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 9, 2019
It will take several weeks to develop the proposed flavor restrictions, which will be subject to public input before taking effect.
Trump’s first public comments on vaping 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.
In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that “any suspected cases of unexplained e-cigarette or vaping-associated pulmonary disease must be immediately reported.” It’s the first time in two years that health officials are mandating that providers report conditions or diseases to the state.
— Mass. Public Health (@MassDPH) September 11, 2019
`Today’s action establishes the legal framework for healthcare providers to report cases and suspected cases so that we can get a better sense of the overall burden of disease in Massachusetts,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement. “It also will allow us to provide case counts to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they continue to try to understand the nationwide impact of vaping-related disease.”
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.
Juul and other vaping companies argue that their products are intended to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes.
But there is little evidence that e-cigarettes are effective for helping smokers quit.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)