Trump administration finalizing ban on flavored e-cigarettes


The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing a compliance policy that will target flavored e-cigarettes and aim to clear the market of unauthorized, non–tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II announced Sept. 11.

Health & Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II Wikimedia Commons/WWsgConnect/CC-SA 4.0

Alex M. Azar II

“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,” Mr. Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

The announcement comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments track hundreds of lung-related illnesses that are linked to the use of e-cigarettes. At least 450 cases have been reported in 33 states and one jurisdiction. Diagnoses include lipoid pneumonia, alveolar hemorrhage, and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia, according to a Sept. 6 press briefing by Ileana Arias, PhD, CDC acting deputy director for non-infectious diseases. Six deaths associated with the illnesses have been reported thus far.

Details of new regulatory action will be forthcoming and will outline enforcement policy for non–tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products that lack premarket authorization, HHS officials said. According to federal rules, all electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products must file premarket tobacco product applications with the FDA within 2 years. Many ENDS products currently on the market are not being legally marketed and are subject to government action, according to the Trump administration.

“Once finalized, this compliance policy will serve as a powerful tool that the FDA can use to combat the troubling trend of youth e-cigarette use,” Ned Sharpless, MD, acting FDA commissioner, said in the statement. “We must act swiftly against flavored e-cigarette products that are especially attractive to children. Moreover, if we see a migration to tobacco-flavored products by kids, we will take additional steps to address youth use of these products.”

Federal officials noted that preliminary numbers from the National Youth Tobacco Survey show a continued rise in youth e-cigarette use, with more than a quarter of high school students current e-cigarette users in 2019. The overwhelming majority of youth e-cigarette users cited the use of fruit, menthol, or mint flavors, according to the preliminary data, which have not yet been published.

According to 2018 survey data, e-cigarette use increased from 12% to 21% among high school students and from 3% to 5% among middle school students from 2017 to 2018. There were 1.5 million more youth e-cigarette users in 2018 than in 2017, and youth who were using e-cigarettes were using them more often, according to the survey.

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