Donald Trump has rolled back on a proposed ban of flavoured e-cigarettes over fears of damaging his chances of re-election, according to reports.
Under pressure from advisors and lobbyists, Mr Trump was persuaded against moving forward with plans to tackle America’s youth vaping crisis on the grounds there could be a backlash from voters in crucial battleground states, The Washington Post reports.
He was conscious of how a loss of jobs tied to the ban would affect his popularity, as well as America’s economic growth, The Post adds.
The decision to reverse the proposals was allegedly made during a 4 November flight to a political rally in Kentucky. Following a briefing from advisers, Trump cancelled the administration’s planned announcement that was scheduled for the next day.
The president has been confronted with a number of protests in response to the ban, with advocates arguing any action against vaping would shut down thousands of shops while pushing users back to cigarettes.
A social media campaign – #IVapeIVote – was launched while vaping enthusiasts have regularly protested outside the White House.
Beyond Washington, Mr Trump was confronted with a large contingent of pro-vaping protesters on 9 November as he was landing at the Bryant-Denny Stadium in Alabama for a college football game.
Others have been more supportive of the plans following a year-on-year increase in lung-related illnesses that have been attributed to vaping products, with more than 2,000 people affected and 40 deaths recorded. The e-cigarette industry has also been criticised for luring minors into vaping.
According to The Post, Mr Trump initially backed the proposals following requests from his wife Melania and daughter Ivanka.
The policy, which had reportedly been given the green light by federal regulators, was all set to be implemented. Juul Labs, the largest seller of e-cigarettes in the country and the target of several federal investigations, had notably taken most of its flavoured products off the market in anticipation of the ban.
But the 11th-hour retreat now leaves policymakers and politicians in Washington asking what comes next. The White House will continue to assess its policy as the administration looks to find a way forward, officials said.
On 11 November, Trump tweeted that he would be “meeting with representatives of the vaping industry, together with medical professionals and individual state representatives, to come up with an acceptable solution to the vaping and E-cigarette dilemma.”