After six deaths and hundreds of illnesses have been linked to a mysterious lung disease linked to flavored e-cigarettes, the Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Popular flavors like menthol and mint are set to be banned, and the companies that manufacture them can reintroduce them into the market at a later date after the FDA reevaluates the products for safety.
Vaping was originally considered a good way for people to wean themselves off of cigarettes, but the proliferation of candy-like flavored e-cigarettes like Juul have been accused of enticing children to the habit. The San Francisco-based company makes sleek, attractive products that are very popular with young people. A single Juul packet has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. As a surge in underaged vaping has reached epidemic proportions, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar addressed the media on Wednesday to address the change in policy.
“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,” Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
It will take the FDA several weeks to develop standards to use on e-cigarettes, Azar said.
The FDA was supposed to start reviewing e-cigarettes last summer until former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb pushed back the review until 2022. The new proposal outlined Wednesday during the press conferents moves the FDA’s timeline to review flavors up to this year. All companies must submit applications in May 2020.
The administration is starting to take action after pressure from law makers and public health groups urging them to do more, including Minority Whip Dick Durbin last week telling Sharpless to take “decisive action” or else resign.
“Finally, the FDA is doing its job,” Durbin said in a statement Wednesday.