As a law banning the sale of fruity and sweet flavored e-cigarettes took effect in Nassau County, President Donald Trump suggested certain flavors of the cartridge-based product could be temporarily taken off the market nationwide.
Trump said late Tuesday the federal government would 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," he said.
Trump, speaking to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he was hosting a New Year’s Eve party, 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. 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 unnamed “people familiar with the matter."
Local county and state lawmakers also have taken steps to ban flavored cartridges except for menthol and tobacco flavors.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran signed a bill last month banning flavored vaping products that took effect Wednesday. Suffolk County officials had considered similar legislation but withdrew it in November.
In September, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State had banned the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids. But those regulations have been put on hold after a state appellate court granted an e-cigarette industry group's request for a stay. The governor is expected to address vaping in his annual State of the State address Jan. 8.
In September, Trump and his top health officials said they would soon sweep virtually all flavored e-cigarettes off 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.
Matthew L. Myers, president of the national advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the president’s announcement broke the administration’s promise to eliminate flavored e-cigarettes because it allowed for menthol cartridges and flavored e-liquids that could be put into refillable pods. He said 5.3 million kids now used e-cigarettes, including more than 27.5% of high school students.
“Only the elimination of all flavored e-cigarettes can end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarette companies from luring and addicting kids with flavored products,” Myers said in a news release.
In November, officials confirmed a second vaping-related death in New York, blaming it on a mysterious illness that had sickened more than 2,000 New Yorkers in 2019. Days later, the New York City Council banned flavored e-cigarettes and vaping liquid flavors other than tobacco.
But the American Vaping Association, a pro-vapor product advocacy group, maintains banning flavored cartridges could create black markets and does nothing to curtail fatal vaping-related illnesses.
“Banning flavored vaping products will do nothing to stop drug dealers from selling illicit contaminated THC cartridges, which are the products that are actually killing people in New York,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said in a November news release.
Beginning in May, all e-cigarettes will need to undergo FDA review. Only those that can demonstrate a benefit for U.S. public health 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.
“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."