PRESIDENT Trump’s proposal to ban all e-cigarette flavors has been questioned by health campaigners who say it could see millions switch back to tobacco.
The US president announced on Wednesday that the government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be putting out “some very strong recommendations” to force all sales of flavored vape juice, other than tobacco, to be withdrawn from the market.
Critics claim, however, that Trump’s announcement is a knee jerk reaction to an outbreak of a severe respiratory disease in the US, which is being blamed on vaping. However many of those hospitalized have admitted to vaping a range of substances and marijuana-based products and do-it-yourself brews, not regulated products.
Trump, however, has said his proposed ban is to combat teen vaping and the FDA will now be developing guidelines to remove all flavors from sale, which have been blamed for enticing young people to vape.
The proposed restrictions would only apply to nicotine vaping products, which are regulated by the FDA, and will be subject to public consultation before coming into effect.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said: “It’ll take several weeks for us to put out the final guidance that will announce all the parameters around the enforcement policy, and then there will likely be about a 30-day delay to effective date, as is customary.” But “at that point all flavored e-cigarettes other than tobacco flavor would have to be removed from the market.”
E-cigarette companies making tobacco-flavored products would have the chance to file for approval by the FDA by May 20th. While those producing flavors can also file but their products would then be off the market until approved.
The FDA has previously considered a flavor ban but has chosen not to and has instead been looking at how flavors in vaping products have helped adults quit cigarettes.
American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley reiterated that vaping flavors is responsible for helping millions of adults quit – and continue to stay off – cigarettes.
He said: “A ban will remove life-changing options from the market that have been used by several million American adults to quit smoking.
“In the history of the United States, prohibition has never worked. It didn’t work with alcohol. It hasn’t worked with marijuana. It won’t work with e-cigarettes.”
The proposed FDA law change has also been criticized by industry and public health experts who are also concerned ex smokers who have successfully switched away from tobacco thanks to flavors – including fruit and candy – could return to their old habits.
There is also a risk even more illegal – and potentially dangerous – products would flood the black market.
Scientists and researchers who have studied how vape flavors are linked to quitting cigarettes, have also panned the Trump administrations’ move, calling it a “really bad idea”.
Peter Hajek, a Queen Mary University of London researcher who led a recent study on vaping’s role in smoking cessation explained: “Although most smokers start with tobacco flavored e-liquid, they often switch to other flavors, most frequently to fruit and sweet flavors. In our trials, successful quitters used most frequently fruit flavors.”
Trump told reporters at the White House announcement that his drive for implementing a ban was because he wanted to protect children from vaping, including his 13-year-old son Barron.
Federal law currently prohibits e-cigarettes and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.