The Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday. The word comes as health officials across the country scramble to try to identify the cause of a growing number of reports of severe lung illnesses related to vaping.

The HHS secretary’s comments came after he met to discuss the issue of a ban on flavored e-cigarettes with President Trump and Ned Sharpless, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is one of the agencies leading the investigation into the outbreak, which has already been linked to six deaths.

“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.”

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He said it would take several weeks to develop the policy.

The announcement was applauded by the American Academy of Pediatrics, though the organization said it was long past time for the government to move on the issue.

“Pediatricians have been raising alarm with increased urgency about the toll of e-cigarettes on their teenage patients, which ranges from wheezing and coughing to compromised lung function, asthma exacerbation and most recently, to seizures, respiratory distress and death,” said Dr. Kyle Yasuda, AAP president. “FDA must now follow through on its promise without delay.”

The American Lung Association echoed the message, saying e-cigarettes are unsafe.

To date the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified as many as 450 people who have suffered from the symptoms of the vaping-related illness. Many of the cases are young people; a number have ended up in hospital and have needed mechanical assistance to breathe.

It is not currently known what is behind the spate of illnesses, though many of those affected reported vaping THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, either alone or in combination with tobacco or other vaping products. FDA labs are testing more than 100 products looking for contaminants that might explain the lung damage doctors are seeing.

The statement made clear the administration’s interest is not simply related to stopping the vaping-related illness, but to combatting the rising popularity of vaping, which some critics believe is undermining efforts to reduce tobacco use.

Sharpless said if the flavored e-cigarette ban pushes young people towards consuming tobacco-flavored vaping products, the administration will take additional steps.

“The tremendous progress we’ve made in reducing youth tobacco use in the U.S. is jeopardized by this onslaught of e-cigarette use,” Sharpless said. “Nobody wants to see children becoming addicted to nicotine, and we will continue to use the full scope of our regulatory authority thoughtfully and thoroughly to tackle this mounting public health crisis.”

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  • The concern is not just altering the juice or using blackmarket unknown contents. A key need is authentication or certification of the contents of vaping juice is FDA approved and it can be traced. Also, the quality of material used in many vape pens coming from China or other are unknown to produce toxins from material not meeting heating standards or use.

  • This is just plain stupidity, look at the amount of deaths that have occurred from cigarettes and tobacco products, and no ban from sales have happened, the real problem here comes down to stupidity of people altering or adding stuff to their vape or buying crappy “black market” home made juice.
    Or is the vape market making cigarette sales plummet and less tax dollars are coming in because of it?
    If vape and flavored vape is banned you should also ban all tobacco products from sales! They are the thing that has caused deaths…….

  • Ok so i have a question for a lot of folks out does any one remember what happened in 1920 to 1933 when the united states banned alcohol. If not let me remind you of prohibition it caused under ground drinking lounges and moonshines to crop up overnight. You cant just ban everything and wash your hands off thinking you solved the problem all you have done is create a black market vapers arent gonna just be quite and be chill your going to eliminate a lot of jobs that it created. So instead of going retarded and saying lets ban all flavors maybe realize these kids are spiking the juice with thc and other things that are not supposed to be in you lungs. The places where the ban is already in effect have found a way to get it through a pseudo black market where there is no quality control and anything goes into the juice. It be like banning all soda and sweets to fix obesity it wont.

    • That’s what I was thinking! When I first heard this I was just like, so prohibition but this time vape juice? Did we not learn anything the first time???

  • This is stupid did you’ve changed the age to 21 that means adults are giving the kids this. U should punish the adults that are giving it to the kids not everyone else. This is stupid and I am beyond mad at this

  • The ignorance in this situation is absolutely insane. The reason they won’t attack cigarettes like this, despite being far more destructive, is the taxes that come from them. This is a ploy to return sales to heavily taxed combustible cigarettes. Salvia went through a very similar incident where Chinese knockoffs laced with bath salts were coming into the US. What did we do? We banned those products which did not adhere to a particular chemical composition. The unwillingness to place standards on e-juice (flavored or not) and instead opting to outright ban it is evidence to my claim.

  • It is my understanding that the illness wad related to ejuice bought off the street not the premium ejuice companies. Juul shoukd be closed down. They have rediculously high concentrations of nicotine in their products. They do not even offer a way to “step down” the nicotine content. They have bought up the bulk of companies that do offer lower nicotine levels to get rid of the competition.
    As for flavors, if it wasn’t for the variety I can get mixing flavors I would easily turn back to combustible cigarettes. I was a 2ppd smoker for 45 yrs. I no longer smoke because of vaping. The flavor variety keeps me interested in vaping so I can resist the urge to go buy smokes.
    Answer to teen vaping:
    Don’t sell to them. Get the blackmarket juice and THC juice off the streets. Arrest the illegal suppliers.
    Don’t punish those who need it to stay away from cigarettes.

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