The Trump administration said on Wednesday that it is suggesting a ban on the countless flavors used in e-cigarettes in an effort to tackle a rapid increase in underage vaping.
“People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children,” President Donald Trump said.
“I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children,” First Lady Melania Trump wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated, “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.”
“We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth,” Azar continued.
According to a report NBC News, at least six deaths have been confirmed for vaping-related respiratory illnesses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 450 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses in 33 states and one territory are now being investigated by state and federal health officials, with the majority of the 58 closely observed to involve THC oil, USA Today reports.
THC is a chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, often through cannabis-infused oils replacing e-liquids.
A Minnesota patient died in August after “a long and complicated hospitalization,” according to the Minnesota health department. Investigators claimed that the death “was associated with vaping illicit THC products.”
“We’ve also put the industry on notice: If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”
Over 80 percent of underage teens who use e-cigarettes claim they have chosen the product because it “comes in flavors that I like,” according to government surveys.
“I’m increasingly concerned that a generation of young people has been deceived into thinking e-cigarettes are safe,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said, urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to consider recalling e-cigarettes as death tolls related to vaping rises.
“The rise in vaping-associated illnesses is a frightening public health phenomenon,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, making a point that he will endeavor to advance legislation to outlaw e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.
E-cigarettes have roamed the U.S. market for over a decade. FDA officials are slow to enforce regulations on them, as outlawing the product could mean obliterating thousands of small vaping businesses.
What ingredients an e-cigarette contains remains a mystery to consumers as no federal agency oversees the e-cigarette industry.
The results of one FDA review of 18 different e-cigarette cartridges found toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in some but not others, the Compton Herald said in one report. All but one of the cartridges labeled “no nicotine” did, in fact, contain nicotine. According to the Summary of Results: Laboratory Analysis of Electronic Cigarettes Conducted by FDA, testing suggests that “quality control processes used to manufacture these products are inconsistent or nonexistent.”
Health officials encourage anyone who experiences lung illnesses related to vaping similar to those under investigation to report them on the FDA’s portal.