The Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes as federal health officials call for restrictions to combat an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease that has sickened hundreds and killed at least six people, U.S. health secretary Alex Azar told reporters Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing its guidance to remove e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco from the market because children are attracted to other flavors, Azar said, following a meeting at the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. It could take the FDA several weeks to develop the guidelines, he said.
The administration will also take enforcement action if it finds e-cigarette makers are intentionally targeting children, Azar said.
Azar and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless briefed Trump on new data showing a surge in teen vaping. Results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey have not been made public yet. Last year’s survey showed skyrocketing use among middle and high school students, prompting the FDA to label teen vaping an “epidemic.”
The meeting comes as members of Congress increasingly pressure the administration to rein in the e-cigarette industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than 450 cases of lung disease officials suspect were caused by vaping.
Some officials have honed in on a vitamin E oil that’s been added to some THC vaping products as a possible cause. Regardless, the outbreak has fueled calls to restrict the e-cigarette industry amid what regulators are calling an “epidemic” of teen vaping.
Trump called on the FDA to get to the bottom of the outbreak.
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