Reuters WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — The Trump administration announced plans on Wednesday to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves in a widening crackdown on vaping, as officials warned that sweet flavors had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction.
President Donald Trump and top U.S. officials expressed concern about surging teenage use of e-cigarettes, and the move comes as health officials are investigating a handful of deaths and potentially hundreds of lung illnesses tied to vaping.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that, with Trump’s blessing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was working on a “guidance document” that would lead to a ban of all e-cigarette flavors aside from tobacco flavoring.
“Once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace,” Azar told reporters during a meeting with the president and first lady Melania Trump.
The ban would include mint and menthol flavoring as well as bubble gum, candy, fruit, alcohol and other flavors, he said.
Tobacco flavoring would be allowed to remain, subject to companies’ filing for approval from the FDA. Even that would be at risk if the government determined children were attracted to it or that it was being marketed to them, Azar said.
The move is the most sweeping action yet by the U.S. government to crack down on what it has called an “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette usage.
The FDA in March formally proposed guidelines that would prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, except mint and menthol, in traditional retail outlets. Under that proposal, which had not been finalized, e-cigarette makers could still sell flavored products online and in age-restricted stores, such as vape shops.