PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will ban most flavored e-cigarettes popular with underage teenagers, but with major exceptions that will benefit manufacturers and retailers. It’s reportedly a compromise with the industry that has angered public health groups.
It represents the federal government’s biggest step to combat a surge in teen vaping, banning candy-flavored e-cigarettes that are popular with high school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavors will be allowed to remain on the market.
The American Lung Association says the plan “will only compromise the health of our nation’s children,” and that it was “disturbing to see the results of the industry lobbying undermine public health protections.”
“This policy is one that was dictated by the e-cigarette industry,” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew Myers said.
Myers says banning flavors is good, but leaving menthol and tobacco vaping products on the market is dangerous.
“Menthol cigarettes are used by more than half of all kids as they start a product,” Myers said.
His group says one-third of all e-cigarette users in the U.S. are middle and high school students and 97% of kids use flavored pods.
“I never thought I’d be addicted, and I’m sure every other teenager or young adult would say the same exact thing,” 18-year-old Chance Ammirata said.
Ammirata has a lung injury his doctor believes vaping may have contributed to.
The CDC counts more than 2,500 cases of people hospitalized with an e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury and 55 deaths.
It says the chemical vitamin E acetate, found in some vaping products, is “closely associated” with the deaths and illnesses.
Some vape shop owners worry a ban will also hurt business.
“If we just enforce the laws we already have or maybe beef them up, have some marketing restrictions,” small business owner Scott Stubbs said. “There are solutions out there to combat youth usage that don’t involve banning adult products.”
“This is not an issue about jobs. This is an issue about the health of our nation’s children,” Myers said.
Incoming FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says the government’s approach attempts to balance the problem of underage vaping with the potential benefits e-cigarettes may play in helping adult smokers transition completely away from regular cigarettes.