US president Donald Trump has proposed a ban on flavoured vaping products. following concerns about underage use of e-cigarettes.
The surprise White House announcement could shake up the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which has been driven by sales of flavoured nicotine formulas.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at the Oval Office.
Mr Trump, whose youngest son Barron is 13 years old, said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what is happening.
“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” he said.
Mr Trump’s first public comments on vaping come as health authorities investigate hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified, though many cases involve marijuana vaping.
The restrictions announced by Trump officials would only apply to nicotine vaping products, which are regulated by the FDA.
The FDA has had the authority to ban vaping flavours since 2016, but has previously resisted calls to take that step.
Agency officials instead said they were studying if flavours could help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.
But parents, teachers and health advocates have increasingly called for a crackdown on flavours, arguing that they are overwhelmingly to blame for the explosion in underage vaping by US teens, particularly with small, discrete devices.
Federal law prohibits e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.
But federal health officials said that preliminary data shows more than one in four high school students reported vaping this year, compared with one in five students in 2018.
Health officials have called the trend an “epidemic,” and they fear teenagers who vape will eventually start smoking.
More than 80% of underage teens who use e-cigarettes say they picked their product because it “comes in flavours that I like,” according to government surveys.
- Press Association