President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that his administration plans to tackle the rise of e-cigarettes by removing all nontobacco vape flavors from the market, including menthol and mint.
“A lot of people think it’s wonderful,” said Trump on Wednesday. “It’s not a wonderful thing.”
The announcement comes a year after former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb described teen vaping as an “epidemic” and amid an outbreak of a vaping-linked lung illness that has killed five people.
Roughly 450 people, mainly young people, across 33 states have been affected by the outbreak. Their symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, fever, fatigue, and respiratory failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned consumers to avoid using any kind of vape device.
Over the last year, the FDA has been focused on curbing youth vape use. It has issued more than 8,600 warning letters and more than 1,000 fines to online and brick-and-mortar stores for selling vapes and vape products to minors. Working with the Federal Trade Commission, it removed dozens of vape products resembling juice boxes, cereal, and candy from the market and warned others for statements made by social media influencers marketing their products.
The FDA also warned Juul Labs this week about marketing its products as safer than regular tobacco products. It requested additional information about its marketing practices to children in schools and tribal reservations. Juul owns more than 70% of the e-cigarette market.
“President Trump shouldn’t follow the lead of San Francisco, Mike Bloomberg, and the far left anti-business extremists,” the Vapor Technology Association, a lobby group for the vape industry, said in a statement. “We urge this administration to change course before millions of Americans are forced to switch back to deadly cigarettes, small businesses around the country are forced to close their doors, and tens of thousands of people are laid off.”