NYT: Trump to announce flavor ban; open-system vaping might be okay

In a New Year’s Eve press conference, President Donald Trump seemed to confirm social media rumors that a flavor ban on pod-style vaping products is imminent.  Acknowledging that the ban will be announced “very shortly,” he also seemingly indicated that it would be temporary without saying which flavors would be affected.  Trump also appeared somewhat empathetic towards the American vapor industry; most specifically adult-only vape shops.

According to The New York Times, Trump took a break from attending a party hosted at the Winter White House in Maro-a-lago to issue a statement.  “We think we are going to get back in the market very, very quickly,” he said. “We have a very big industry. We’re going to take care of the industry.”

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At risk are mint, fruity, and dessert flavors.  Menthol and tobacco flavors will apparently be excluded, and the focus on the new restrictions will likely only apply to closed-system electronic cigarettes like JUUL, VUSE, and pod-style designs.  As an apparent concession to vape shop owners, flavored e-liquids sold separately and used in open-system vaporizers can continue to be purchased, according to two unnamed officials of the Trump Administration. 

Trump changes his mind – again

On September 11 during a white house press conference with his wife Melania at his side, President Trump first announced his intentions to ban all flavored vape products regardless of pod-style or closed-system deviations.  The announcement came immediately following the initial reporting by mainstream media of a “vaping-related” lung disorder sweeping the nation.

By November, Mr. Trump appeared to have changed his mind.  By then, the medical diagnoses had been attributed to the vaping of THC-containing products laced with vitamin E acetate.  No nicotine-based vapes have yet to be been linked to the controversy, but this new information is not preventing vaping-hating activists from turning up the political pressure on Mr. Donald Trump.

Related Article:  WH Presser: Trump plans to ban flavored vapes; no mention of THC or smoking

By late-December, The Hill began reporting that the president was once again waffling on his earlier decision to backtrack on a flavor ban based on new guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under former Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless.  The White House Office and Management and Budget had also confirmed that the Trump Administration would be reviewing the new guidance document over the Christmas holidays. 

The FDA guidance was thought to be shelved “for the moment” as Trump’s new nominee to head the FDA was going through the Senate confirmation process in early December.  After tough questioning about vaping bans from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, Dr. Stephen Hahn was eventually confirmed and assumed office on December 17.

The fight over vaping will continue

If the rumors are true and President Trump announces a flavor ban as soon as this week, it will by no means end the debate over flavor vaping and its perceived influence on teenagers.  Conservatives like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform opposes vaping bans of any kind, saying that they will only harm small businesses that manufacture theses products, vendors that sell them, and the adult vaping community who use them to curb their addiction to smoking. 

Conversely, staunch anti-vaping groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) will view the Trump announcement as an ineffective half-measure.  Unwilling to compromise, the CTFK will never be fully satisfied until all vapor products are completely abolished – including e-liquids used in open-system vaporizers.  The American Lung Association – closely linked to Big Pharma - will likely agree.

Related Article:  Senate confirms new FDA Chief Hahn despite unclear views on the future of vaping

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