Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Trump moves to ban most flavored electronic cigarettes; pro-health groups in Kentucky cheer, urge quick action

A young person uses an electronic cigarette. (Getty Images)
Citing his 13-year-old son as an example, President Trump signaled Wednesday that his administration would ban most flavored electronic cigarettes, which have caused an epidemic of e-cig use among teenagers across the country, including Kentucky.

“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless and first lady Melania Trump, who the president said feels “very, very strongly” about the issue because of their son, Barron.

"Azar said Wednesday the administration intends to 'clear the market' of flavored e-cigarettes," reports Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post. "Azar said the FDA is finalizing a plan on flavored e-cigarettes in the next several weeks that probably would go into effect a month later. The policy, he said, would require most flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, to be removed from the market. The flavored products would not be allowed back on the market until — and if — they receive specific approval from the FDA," which would require them to show a health benefit.

Azar said, "No child should ever use a vaping or e-cigarette product." Despite the industry's terminology, e-cigs do not produce a vapor, but an aerosol, with a wide range of particulates.

Administration officials said tobacco-flavored e-cigs would not be banned, to give smokers an alternative to regular cigarettes. "Azar warned, however, that should it become clear that kids are also becoming attracted to the tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, the administration will take action against those products as well," Beth Wang reports for Inside Health Policy.

"Those products tend to be less appealing to young people, McGinley notes. "The administration’s move comes as health officials across the country investigate more than 450 cases, including six deaths, of lung disease linked to vaping. Many patients have reported using cannabis-related products, but authorities have not ruled out any specific type of vaping."

UPDATE, Sept. 12: The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and several other groups announced their support for the plan, saying, "We support a ban on non-tobacco flavored electronic cigarette products, including fruit, candy, mint and menthol flavored products - nationwide, and urge the Food and Drug Administration to act as quickly as possible to implement the ban."

The statement went on, "Flavored tobacco products are an unfettered pipeline for turning youth experimenters into adult nicotine addicts. The appeal of flavored tobacco to adolescents and teens is a key reason the FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009. Sadly, the latest data showing yet another spike in youth e-cigarette use from one in five to more than one in four teens was entirely predictable given the thousands of flavored e-cigarette products on the market. Four out of five 12- to 17-year-olds who have used tobacco started with a flavored product, and four out of five current youth tobacco users have used a flavored tobacco product in the past month. Flavors are among the most common reasons for youth and young adults say they use e-cigarettes."

Joining the foundation in the statement were the Kentucky School Boards Association, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, hospital group Baptist Health, insurance company Humana, the American Heart Association, the Kentucky Medical Association, the Kentucky Health Collaborative, the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Kentucky Youth Advocates, the Kentucky Hospital Association and the Kentucky Cancer Foundation.

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