White House Vaping Ban Targets Fruity Flavors

WASHINGTON (CN) — Popular flavors of electronic cigarette cartridges will vanish from store shelves in 2020, as the Trump administration announced a ban on many of those products Thursday while allowing others to stay on the market.

This September 2019 photo shows flavored vaping solutions in a window display at a vape and smoke shop in New York City. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Fruit, candy and dessert-like flavors, which are popular with high school students and other underage users, will be removed from the market, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration.

The new FDA enforcement policy noted that 5 million U.S. middle and high school students admitted to using some form of cartridge-based vaping device last year.

Other flavors, including tastes that mimic the flavor of tobacco and a menthol flavor, will remain available at gas stations and other nicotine retailers.

Companies with a larger share of the e-cigarette cartridge market, like Juul Laboratories, won’t have to recall many products, as the company has already pulled their fruity flavors from shelves.

Restricting these flavors is specific to only prepackaged e-cigarette cartridges. Larger tank-based vaping products allow users to fill their vaporizer with a variety of fruity and sweet flavors because they do not fall under the ban. These products are normally marketed in tobacco shops which require patrons to be 21 or older to enter, but the FDA says it is monitoring underage sales.

The agency said in a statement that it will prioritize enforcement against manufactures that don’t take adequate steps to prevent youth access to the tobacco and menthol-flavored products.

The new policy comes after President Donald Trump’s announcement in September that he would push for a ban of most flavored e-cigarettes, amid a government investigation into hundreds of cases of respiratory infections linked to vaping.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, said the president did not fulfill his promise to American youth. The lawmaker’s committee held several hearings last year on the deceptive marketing practices e-cigarette companies use to attract youth with sweet and appealing flavors.

“President Trump betrayed his promise, and instead issued a watered-down guidance with carveouts so wide that they swallow the rule and render it ineffective,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement Thursday. “Exempting open tank systems – those that users fill with e-liquids themselves – ensures continued access to an unbounded variety of the most kid-friendly flavors. And specifically exempting menthol is inexcusable, as it is one of the most popular flavors sold, particularly among youth.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that the ban is a comprehensive and aggressive approach to enforcing laws passed by Congress regarding the sale of vaping products. He also said the administration decided to exempt menthol after reviewing new data showing the flavor was not as popular with teens.

“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth,” Azar said in a statement.

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