Trump to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid vaping 'epidemic'
"We can't allow people to get sick," President Donald Trump said from the Oval Office.
- The ban aims to remove most flavors of e-cigarettes from the market, while allowing only tobacco flavors.
- Recently, more than 450 people have been hospitalized and at least six people have died from vaping-related incidents.
- Health officials say these cases seem to be caused by black-market vaping products, not those like Juul.
The Trump administration said it plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes, a move that comes as vaping has been linked to more than 450 hospitalizations and at least six deaths in the U.S.
Although the bulk of these recent cases seem to have been caused by black-market vaping cartridges, many have long criticized e-cigarette companies, such as Juul, for marketing products to kids and getting them hooked on nicotine, which could increase their chances of seeking other, more dangerous, vaping products.
"We can't allow people to get sick," President Donald Trump said from the Oval Office. "And we can't have our kids be so affected."
The new ban aims to remove most e-cigarette flavors from the market — like Juul's strawberry lemonade, mango, and grape flavors, to name a few — while permitting only tobacco flavors to remain on store shelves. Critics say kid-friendly flavors lead kids to become addicted to e-cigarettes.
"Flavors have been shown to initiate kids to tobacco use and a lifetime of addiction and tobacco-related death and disease," Harold P. Wimmer, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association, told The New York Times. "We are anxious to review all of the details of the administration's plan."
While studies have suggested that e-cigarettes can damage the heart, cardiovascular cells, and lungs, scientists still don't have a complete picture of how exactly e-cigarettes harm the body. And that's alarming when you consider that 27.5 percent of high schoolers say they've used e-cigarettes in the past month, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some U.S. health officials have deemed it a "crisis" and an "epidemic," like U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. In a recent statement he said:
"The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools, and communities. We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth."
On Wednesday, September 12, a Juul spokesman told CNBC, "We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective."
But as Juul has faced growing criticism around its marketing practices — the latest of which includes a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration — the company has also spent nearly $2 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of 2019.
"It shows you that just spending money on lobbying doesn't create magic results. This is an un-exact science when it comes to lobbying and Juul has found that out. Anything can happen at any time no matter how many resources you put into lobbying," said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. "I think they were focused on Congress and the Hill. I think they knew there was probably a slight possibility something would happen in the executive branch but I think they were taken by surprise by this."
Political activism may get people invested in politics, and affect urgently needed change, but it comes at the expense of tolerance and healthy democratic norms.