WASHINGTON – US health officials. UU. They will ban most flavored electronic cigarettes popular among underage teenagers, but their plan includes important exceptions that benefit vaporizer manufacturers, retailers and adults who use nicotine-emitting devices.
The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will ban the flavors of fruits, candies, mint and desserts from small electronic cartridges with cartridges that are popular among high school students. But electronic cigarettes flavored with menthol and tobacco may remain in the market.
The taste ban will also completely exempt large tank-based vaping devices, which are mainly sold in vaping stores that cater to adult smokers.
Together, the two exemptions represent a significant withdrawal from President Donald Trump’s original plan announced four months ago, which would have banned all vaping flavors, including menthol, from all types of electronic cigarettes.
The new policy will save a significant part of the multi-million dollar vaping market. And the changes mark a great victory for thousands of steam shop owners who sell tank-based systems, which allow users to mix custom flavors.
Senator Mitt Romney, who urged the FDA to throw electronic cigarettes flavored last fall, said he spoke with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar about the administration’s plan on Thursday.
„The temporary ban on @ US_FDA of flavored capsules that attract children is a positive step, but more needs to be done. I will continue to work with the administration to protect our children from diseases and addictions,” he said in a tweet.
Romney has sponsored legislation to regulate the vaping industry, prohibit non-tobacco flavors, ensure that electronic cigarettes are tamper-proof and impose vaping products such as normal cigarettes.
The tobacco advocates immediately condemned the decision to allow menthol and exempt vapors based on tanks. They have pressured the Trump administration to fulfill its initial promise to ban all flavors, except tobacco, arguing that teenagers who use vapors will simply switch to using menthol if it remains in the market.
„Only the elimination of all flavored electronic cigarettes can end the worsening of the electronic cigarette youth epidemic and prevent electronic cigarette companies from attracting and addicting children with flavored products,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign by Tobacco Free Children, in a statement.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that generally heat a tasteful nicotine solution in an inhalable aerosol. They have been presented to adults as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes, but there is limited data on their ability to help smokers quit smoking.
The Food and Drug Administration has struggled for years to find the right approach to regulate vaping. Under current law, all electronic cigarettes must undergo an FDA review as of May. Only those who can demonstrate a public health benefit from the US UU. They may remain in the market.
„We have to protect our families,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday, before the announcement. „At the same time, it is a big industry. We want to protect the industry.”
Taste restrictions apply to electronic cigarettes that use pre-filled nicotine cartridges that are sold primarily at service stations and convenience stores. Juul Labs is the most important player in that market, but previously he took out all his flavors, except menthol and tobacco, after intense political scrutiny.
Many smaller manufacturers continue to sell sweet and fruity flavors such as „grape slush”, „strawberry cotton candy” and „cranberry with sea salt.”
The taste restrictions will not affect the larger special devices sold in vaping stores, which generally do not support customers under 21 years of age. These tank-based systems allow users to fill the device with the flavor of their choice. Sales of these devices represent approximately 40% of the US vaping business. UU., With sales in around 15,000 to 19,000 stores.
Even with the exemption for products sold in vaping stores, industry advocates were not happy with the restrictions.
Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association said that narrower flavor options for Juul and similar devices „will result in more adults smoking.”
Still, the new policy represents the biggest step by the federal government to combat an increase in teen vaping that officials fear is hooking a generation of young people with nicotine. In the latest government survey, more than 1 in 4 high school students reported using electronic cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law prohibiting sales to people under 18.
At the end of last month, Trump signed a law that increases the minimum age to buy all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 years across the country.
Azar said the administration decided to exempt the menthol after reviewing new data showing that the taste was not popular among teenagers.
„As we got better data on the flavors, we modified our thinking,” said Azar. Survey data published in November reported that less than 6% of adolescents chose menthol as their best option for vaping.
On the contrary, peppermint was the most popular flavor among second-year and older students. Incoming FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said the government’s approach attempts to balance the problem of the vaporizer of children with „the potential role that electronic cigarettes can play in helping adult smokers quit smoking altogether.”
When Trump officials first sketched their plans at a White House event in September, they specifically said that menthol would be banned. But that effort stopped after vaping advocates and lobbyists rejected and White House advisers told Trump that a total ban on flavor could cost him votes.
Industry groups, including the Vapor Technology Association, launched an aggressive social media campaign, #IVapeIVote, stating that the plan would force the closure of vaping stores, eliminating jobs and sending electronic cigarette users to smoke traditionally.
Trump’s initial announcement came amid an outbreak of unexplained lung diseases related to vaping. But since then, health officials have linked the vast majority of cases to a contaminant filler added to illicit THC vaporization liquids. THC is the chemical in marijuana that makes users feel drugged.
The manufacturers of nicotine-based vaping products have tried to distance themselves from the problem. FDA officials said Thursday they will continue targeting vaping products that attract underage users in other ways, such as containers that mimic juice boxes, cereals or snacks suitable for children.
Administration officials also pledged to work with the industry as the May deadline for product review approaches. The authorities indicated that products sent before the deadline that are not attractive to children may remain in the market for up to one year until the FDA review. They also clarified that some vape flavors could return to the market if manufacturers can establish that they benefit adult smokers by helping them quit cigarettes.
Contributing: Aamer Madhani, Dennis Romboy