Trump says he plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes after spate of vaping deaths: 'People are dying'

Andrew Buncombe
Health authorities across the country are investigating problems associated with vaping: Getty

Donald Trump has said he plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes after a spate of vaping deaths, declaring that companies were getting rich as people died.

In an appearance at the Oval Office with his most senior health official, the president said the issue had become such that parents needed to be taught about what was happening to young people.

“People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children,” he said.

“They’ve become very rich companies very fast and the whole thing with vaping is it’s very profitable. And I want companies – you know that … that’s why I’m fighting with China. But we can’t allow people to get sick.”

He added: “And we can’t have our kids be so affected. And I’m hearing it.”

Mr Trump spoke alongside first lady Melania Trump, and Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services.

Mr Azar said the federal food and drug administration (FDA) wiould develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco.

“We simply have to remove these attractive flavoured products from the marketplace until they can secure FDA approval, if they can,” said Mr Azar He said the makers of flavoured products could apply for FDA permission to reenter the market, but only products that represent a net benefit to the nation’s public health can win FDA clearance.

Mr Azar said the administration would permit tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes to remain available as an option for adult smokers, but warned if children began using those products, “we will take enforcement action there also”.

The president’s first public comments on vaping come as health authorities across the country are investigating 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 devices.

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The proposal 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 flavours since 2016, but has previously resisted calls to take that step.

Parents, politicians and health advocates have increasingly called for a crackdown on flavours, arguing that they are overwhelmingly to blame for a recent surge in underage vaping by American teenagers.

Mr Trump said on Wednesday: “It’s very dangerous. Children have died, people have died. And we’re going to have some very strong rules and regulations.”

Reports suggest that any ban on flavoured products would be a major blow to the vaping industry, including companies such as Juul, which has grown into a multibillion dollar business by selling mint, fruit and dessert flavoured-products.

Juul and other vaping companies argue that their products are intended to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes.

A few local governments, including San Francisco, have passed bans on flavoured tobacco. This month Michigan moved to become the first state to ban flavoured electronic cigarettes.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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