President Donald Trump talks about a plan to ban most flavored e-cigarettes with acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, first lady Melania Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. (Associated Press)

President Donald Trump talks about a plan to ban most flavored e-cigarettes with acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, first lady Melania Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. (Associated Press)

Government plans to ban flavors used in e-cigarettes

“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” President Donald Trump says.

By Matthew Perrone / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The federal government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, responding to a recent surge in underage vaping that has alarmed parents, politicians and health authorities nationwide.

The surprise White House announcement could remake the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which has been driven by sales of flavored nicotine formulas such as “grape slushie” and “strawberry cotton candy.”

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, whose son Barron is 13 years old, said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what’s happening. “We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” he said.

Melania Trump recently tweeted her concerns over the combination of children and vaping, and at the meeting, the president said, “I mean, she’s got a son — together — that is a beautiful, young man, and she feels very, very strongly about it.”

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.

The restrictions 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 previously resisted calls to take that step. Agency officials instead said they were studying if flavors could help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.

But parents, teachers and health advocates have increasingly called for a crackdown on flavors , arguing that they are overwhelmingly to blame for the explosion in underage vaping by U.S. teens, particularly with small, discrete devices such as Juul’s.

“It has taken far too long to stop Juul and other e-cigarettes companies from targeting our nation’s kids with sweet-flavored, nicotine-loaded products,” said Matthew Myers, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement.

Federal law prohibits e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.

But federal health officials said Wednesday that preliminary data shows more than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping this year, compared with 1 in 5 students in 2018. Federal health officials have called the trend an “epidemic,” and they fear teenagers who vape will eventually start smoking.

More than 80 percent of underage teens who use e-cigarettes say they picked their product because it “comes in flavors that I like,” according to government surveys.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Local aero firms get $4.5 million from feds to protect jobs

Federal Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Program grants were awarded to six Snohomish County employers.

Homes in The Point subdivision border the construction of the Go East Corp. landfill on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Mudslide briefly stalls housing project at former Everett landfill

The slide buried two excavators in September. Work has resumed to make room for nearly 100 new houses.

FILE - In this June 12, 2017, file photo, a Boeing 787 airplane being built for Norwegian Air Shuttle is shown at Boeing Co.'s assembly facility, in Everett, Wash. Boeing is dealing with a new production problem involving its 787 jet, in which inspections have found flaws in the way that sections of the rear of the plane were joined together. Boeing said Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, it's not an immediate safety risk but could cause the planes to age prematurely. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FAA memo reveals more Boeing 787 manufacturing defects

The company said the problems do not present an immediate safety-of-flight issue.

Ameé Quiriconi, Snohomish author, podcaster and entrepreneur.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish author’s handbook charts a course for female entrepreneurs

She’s invented sustainable concrete, run award-winning wedding venues and worked in business… Continue reading

A final environmental cleanup is set to begin next year at the ExxonMobil and ADC properties, neighboring the Port of Everett. Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Port of Everett to get $350K for its costs in soil clean-up

The end is finally in sight for a project to scrub petroleum from two waterfront parcels, owned by ExxonMobil and ADC.

Shawn Loring, owner of Lazy Boy Brewing, received $10,000 through Everett's federal CARES Act funding.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett, Snohomish breweries to open on Everett waterfront

Lazy Boy Brewing and Sound to Summit see a bright future at the port’s Waterfront Place.

A woman walks by models of Boeing Co. aircraft, including the manufacturer's new Boeing 777X, at the Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
India’s Akasa Air buys engines worth $4.5 billion for new 737 Maxs

Boeing clinched a deal at the Dubai Air Show to sell 72 of the jets for some $9 billion.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson speaks to lawmakers as Michael Stumo, holding a photo of his daughter Samya Rose Stumo, and his wife Nadia Milleron, sit behind him during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on the implementation of aviation safety reform at the US Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Samya Stumo was among those killed in a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash in 2019. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
FAA says Boeing is appointing people lacking expertise to oversee airplane certification

The company was replacing senior FAA-authorized engineers who took early retirement during the pandemic.

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 17, 2019, file photo, Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., center, talks with Paul Njoroge, right, who lost his wife and three young children, as Michael Stumo, left, who lost his daughter, looks on before the start of a House Transportation subcommittee hearing on aviation safety, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The year since the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max has been a journey through grief, anger and determination for the families of those who died, as well as having far-reaching consequences for the aeronautics industry as it brought about the grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets, which remain out of service. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Boeing settles with Ethiopia 737 Max crash victims

The agreement allows victims’ families to pursue claims in U.S. courts instead of their home country.

Dennie Willard, a Navy veteran, became homeless in 2014 and began job training through HopeWorks at Renew Home and Decor. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Looking for his ‘last job,’ veteran found new work, new life

U.S. Navy veteran Dennis Willard, once homeless, now works for the nonprofit that helped him.

People hold signs in protest of the vaccine mandate along Airport Road next to Boeing on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Report: 11,000 Boeing workers seek vaccination exemptions

Reuters says executives are scrambling to balance a company and federal mandate with the need to retain workers.

Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber points back to the new retail site at Fisherman's Harbor at Waterfront Place during a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021 in Everett, Washington. The project will construct two new buildings to house the new Asian-inspired Fisherman Jack’s restaurant, South Fork Bakery, and three marine-related offices adjacent to the new Waterfront Place Apartments and Hotel Indigo.
 (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Port of Everett breaks ground on a new ‘restaurant row’

American-Chinese restaurant Fisherman Jack’s and South Fork Bakery are two businesses that will call the waterfront home.