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Trump Administration Plans to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

The tobacco industry has brought upon us a new product over the past few years.  This product was supposed to assist smokers in their difficult journey to quit. This product is known by many people as a vape.  A vape is similar to many products on the market in a sense that is abused and not used for its intended purpose. Rather than being used as a tool to quit smoking, vapes are being used as a more deadly alternative to smoking.

Over the years, vapes have become a more popular alternative to smoking due to the fact that they can come in many different flavors.  The wide variety of flavors has increased the popularity of vaping with minors and young adults. According to the FDA, 11.7% of high school students reported using vapes in 2017.  That number increased to 20.8% of high school students vaping in 2018, which is an increase of 78% from the previous year. Among middle school students, the statistics are not that better.  In 2017, 3.3% of middle school students reported using vapes compared to 4.9% of middle school students in 2018. The numbers for 2018 were up 48% from 2017.

There are multiple reasons why an increasing amount of youth and young adults are starting to vape.  During an interview, Housing and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC that the vape flavors have drawn the attention of America’s youth and that large tobacco companies target the youth with their marketing efforts.  With any epidemic comes casualties. According to CNBC, vaping has killed at least six people and sent hundreds more to the hospital due to vaping related illnesses.

The six casualties and increasing number of people being hospitalized for vaping has raised many concerns within the Trump Administration.  As a result, President Trump released a statement saying that his administration plans to ban the sale of flavored vapes and e-cigarettes. However, tobacco flavored vapes and e-cigarettes would be exempt from this ban.  According to CNBC, HUD Secretary Azar said that he wanted to keep tobacco-flavored products on the market for smokers who use the product to ease off of the cigarettes. It has also been proven that flavored tobacco products develop a nicotine addiction in adolescents, causing them to start smoking cigarettes.  Ironically, these products were supposed to help people quit smoking cigarettes. According to CNN, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted that vapes and e-cigarettes are an on-ramp for nicotine addiction. During a meeting last Wednesday, President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, HUD Secretary Azar and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless unanimously agree that flavored vapes and e-cigarettes need to be banned pending FDA approval.

Any potential ban on flavored tobacco products would take time to implement.  The Trump Administration would propose the ban and companies who make flavored tobacco products would have a certain period of time, usually sixty days, to appeal this decision.  Large tobacco companies are also known to have large sums of money set aside to fight regulations and lawsuits set forth by the government. Once the ban on flavored tobacco products is set forth, companies such as Juul would have approximately sixty days to file an appeal to an administrative law judge, who hears appeals from companies about potentially harmful regulations, explaining how such regulations could drastically impact their businesses.  Such regulations would halt the sale of flavored tobacco products, as currently reflected in the stock prices of these companies. According to Yahoo Finance, the stock of Altria Group, which owns 35% of Juul Labs, has drastically fallen after the Trump Administration announced a ban on flavored tobacco products. If an administrative law judge rules in favor of Juul Labs, the ban on flavored tobacco products will be reversed, allowing such products to remain on the market.

The ban on flavored tobacco products would only move forward in the event that an administrative law judge rules in favor of the Trump Administration.  If this were to occur, only tobacco flavored products can remain on the market, according to CNBC. Flavored tobacco products would have to be removed from the market within thirty days of the ban’s implementation and could be put back on the market pending FDA approval.