WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Trump administration on Thursday announced a highly anticipated ban on many flavored e-cigarette products.
The administration says the ban is meant to help combat an increase in the number of teens who vape — labeled an epidemic — but health groups say it is missing key provisions to keep flavors away from kids.
“Make no mistake, this is an historic day,” Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said. “We are going to enforce against e-cigarette products that are most appealing to children.”
Retailers will be allowed to sell only menthol products, not other fruity flavors. The ban will apply only to closed pods, not to refillable liquid flavors that vapers can mix themselves.
“We expect people to try and circumvent our rules or to do things to get around them, but we’re going to be on this,” he said.
The administration says the ban will balance efforts to reduce the number of teens who vape with demand from adults who have turned to vaping to quit conventional cigarettes.
Not everyone is convinced.
“It’s very troubling. … The only thing this compromise this is making is of our children’s health,” Erika Sward of the American Lung Association said. “There’s a quick hack that is on YouTube and other platforms that shows kids how to refill these cartridges.”
Health advocates are still calling on Congress to pass a full ban on all flavored vaping products.
The allowances in the administration’s ban came after months of contentious debate and protests.
“The compromise is still fortunate in some way because it preserves at least one option for these adults” who use vaping to keep from smoking, Paul Blair of conservative lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform said. “The argument we made to the administration was, ‘This seriously might cost you the election.’”
The ban goes into effect immediately. The DHHS said retailers have until February to get products approved for sale and the federal Food and Drug Administration says it will offer more resources and webinars to educate retailers on the new rules.