In an effort to thwart vaping use among adolescents, the Trump administration plans to take flavored e-cigarettes off the market. President Donald Trump revealed Wednesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would soon put out "very strong recommendations" aimed at removing flavored e-cigarette products from store shelves, at least until manufacturers can obtain proper FDA approval. News of a potential national ban on flavored e-cigarettes comes one day after a sixth person was reported to have died from a vaping-related lung disease.
"Vaping has become a very big business as I understand it," video shared by CNN showed Trump said during an impromptu press briefing at the White House. "But we can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected ... People are dying with vaping, so we're looking at it very closely."
Speaking with the president at the White House on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters that it would likely take the FDA "several weeks" to release its finalized guidance on flavored e-cigarettes. After that, all flavored e-cigarette products would have to be removed from the market following a customary "30-day delay to effective date," Azar said.
Under the forthcoming new guidance, the manufacturers of tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products would have to file for FDA approval by May 2020. According to Azar, manufacturers of e-cigarette products in flavors other than tobacco would also be able to file for FDA approval, but would be unable to sell their products on the market until the proper approval was received. Flavored e-cigarette products are currently available for sale under an FDA waiver, according to USA Today.
"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, CNBC reported. "We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth."
Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, President Trump argued that vaping wasn't as "wonderful" as people thought it was. "That's one thing I think we can say definitely," he said in video shared by CNN. "It's not a wonderful thing, it's got big problems. We have to find out the extent of the problem."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported recording more than 450 cases of e-cigarette product-related lung illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory. What's more, health officials in Kansas confirmed Tuesday that a sixth person had died as a result of the e-cigarette or vaping-related illness.
But Trump isn't the only one concerned about vaping's potential dangers. First Lady Melania Trump has also waded in on the issue, tweeting earlier this week that she was "deeply concerned" about the use of e-cigarette products among children, something she called a "growing epidemic."
"We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth," she wrote. On Wednesday, Trump said Melania felt "very, very strongly" about curbing children's use of vaping and e-cigarette products and had been closely following reports of the related respiratory illnesses.
While it's clear the FDA plans to remove unauthorized, non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products from the market, it's remain unclear for now how many of those products will ultimately be allowed to return to store shelves with FDA approval.