Trump administration announces plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar says FDA will be removing non-tobacco flavours from vaping market.

United States President Donald Trump has told reporters that the country has a problem with vaping, and his top health official said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intends to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office on Wednesday that children were becoming addicted to nicotine due to attractive flavors of e-cigarettes.

Azar said that the FDA was working on a “guidance document” that would lead to a ban of all vape flavors aside from tobacco flavoring.

“Once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace,” Azar added.

Six deaths have been linked to vaping and US public health officials are investigating 450 cases of potential vaping-related lung illness across 33 states and one US territory.

“We have a problem in our country, it’s a new problem … and it’s called vaping,” Trump said.

“Especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children,” he added.

‘Very real risks’

The nationwide investigation led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA has not definitively linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient, although officials have expressed suspicions about the effects of inhaling vitamin E acetate, which is in some vaping products.

Although illnesses tied to vaping can cause a fever and other symptoms that suggest an infection, patients do not respond to antibiotics, and doctors believe patients are suffering from a chemical injury.

It is not yet clear whether the illness is unique to the US, though some health agencies, such as that of Canada, say they have not had any cases so far.

The FDA has urged consumers to avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, buying vaping products on the street, using marijuana-derived oil with products or modifying store-bought vape products.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has urged all consumers to avoid vaping. The organization has urged doctors to warn their patients about the potential harms of e-cigarettes and has called on the FDA to regulate vaping products.

Industry officials have sought to distance their companies from any possible safety risk, focusing on the FDA’s warning regarding liquids that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana or cannabis).

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, criticised the AMA for “fearmongering about nicotine vaping products” while not mentioning “the very real risks of vaping illicit THC products”.

Ted Kwong, a spokesman for US market leader Juul Labs Inc, said the company’s products “do not include THC, any compound derived from cannabis, or vitamin E compounds like those found in THC products”.

Juul is 35 percent owned by Altria Group Inc.

SOURCE: Reuters news agency

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