The administration’s new rules about vape flavors is meant to help curb youth e-cigarette use
Amid a huge rise in youth e-cigarette use, the Trump administration announced this week that it would ban the sales of all but two vape cartridge flavors: classic tobacco and menthol. The move is supposed to remove fruit- and candy-like flavors from the market and help make vaping less appealing to young people, who use the devices at nearly epidemic rates.
“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement about the ban, which goes into effect 30 days from Thursday, when the announcement was made.
The ban excludes some products, including refillable liquid flavors that can be used with vaping devices that have refillable reservoir tanks. Those liquid flavors are also sold in vape shops.
In November, a survey by Journal of the American Medical Association showed that more than one in four high school students uses flavored e-cigarettes at least once a month. That amounts to more than 5 million teens nationwide. It’s also a huge increase over last year, and public health officials are alarmed by the huge upswing in numbers of teens who vape. Unfortunately, that same survey revealed that the majority of teens report the flavor they use most often is mint, which isn’t affected by this flavor ban, as menthol products will still be available. However, the second most popular flavor teens reported using was mango, which does fall under the Trump administration’s new ban.
In October, just before that survey was released, Juul, one of the largest companies making e-cigarettes and by far the preferred brand among teens, announced it was suspending sales in the U.S. of several popular flavors, including mango, creme, fruit, and cucumber. However, it kept mint and menthol flavors on store shelves.
Vape-related lung injuries in the U.S. now number more than 2,500, and at least 55 people have died from them. Those deaths appear to be mostly related to people vaping THC-infused liquids in refillable devices, but the deaths have definitely been a factor as public officials have examined e-cigarette use by teens and the dangers that could be related.
The Trump administration’s flavor ban comes right on the heels of its decision to raise the age to legally purchase tobacco products, including vaping products, from 18 to 21 nationwide.