PALM BEACH, Fla. -- President Donald Trump says the federal government will soon announce a new strategy to tackle underage vaping, promising, "We're going to protect our families, we're going to protect our children, and we're going to protect the industry."
Trump was vague about what the plan would entail but suggested "certain flavors" in cartridge-based e-cigarettes would be taken off the market "for a period of time."
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration would ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, such as those sold by Juul and NJOY. E-cigarette pods formulated to taste like tobacco or menthol would still be allowed.
The Journal also reported that tank-based vaping systems, which are less popular among teenagers, would still allow users to custom-mix flavors. The Journal report cited anonymous "people familiar with the matter."
According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, over 5 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019. In a 2013-2014 survey published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 81 percent of teenage e-cigarette users said their primary reason for using vapes was the appealing flavors. In a 2018 study, investigators found that 68 percent of high school e-cigarette users routinely reached for flavored vapes, compared to 61 percent in 2017.
In September, Trump and his top health officials said they would soon sweep virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market because of their appeal to young children and teens. But that effort stalled after vaping lobbyists pushed back and White House advisers told Trump the ban could cost him votes with adults who vape.
Beginning in May, all e-cigarettes will need to undergo FDA review. Only those that can demonstrate a benefit for U.S. public health--for example, products that help people quit smoking--will be permitted to stay on the market.
On Tuesday, Trump suggested a ban of flavored e-cigarettes might be temporary. "Hopefully, if everything's safe, they're going to be going very quickly back onto the market," he told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he was hosting a New Year's Eve party.
"People have died from this, they died from vaping," the Republican president said. "We think we understand why. But we're doing a very exhaustive examination and hopefully everything will be back on the market very, very shortly."
But the FDA had already announced that, starting in May, all e-cigarettes will need to undergo a review. And only those that can demonstrate a benefit for U.S. public health will be permitted to stay on the market.
In Florida, Trump added: "Look, vaping can be good from the standpoint - you look at the e-cigarettes, you stop smoking. If you can stop smoking, that's a big advantage. So, we think we're going to get it back on the market very, very quickly."
More details about the ban are expected to be announced later this week.