By E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, January 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) – After months of delay, the Trump Administration is expected to announce this week that it will ban mint, fruit and dessert flavored electronic cigarette cartridges, while allowing the continuous sale of vapors Flavored with menthol and tobacco.
The White House originally proposed a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, which is believed to be especially attractive to teenagers, in September. But since then, the Administration seemed to bow to industrial and political pressures and move away from such a ban.
As reported on Tuesday by The New York Times, the new ban would have an important exception: flavored liquid nicotine used in "open tank systems" will not be prohibited. That looks like a concession to the burgeoning vape shop business.
Trump also hinted that the ban may not last long.
"We believe that we will return to the market very, very fast," he said at a New Year's Eve press conference, held during a party at his Mar-a-Lago resort, the Times reported. "We have a very large industry. We will deal with the industry."
Health advocates supported the ban, but said the exclusion of menthol could greatly weaken its effect.
"The administration policy will be well below what is necessary to address this growing epidemic," said Nancy Brown, executive director of the American Heart Association.
"By allowing the flavors of menthol and flavored liquid nicotine used in open tank systems to remain on the market, the administration would leave a wide path for the continued use of electronic cigarettes among the children of our nation," he said in a release.
"The flavors attract children, and menthol is a flavor," said Erika Sward, spokesman for the American Lung Association, Times. "It really helps numb the senses and makes the poison less easily."
A study published in October shows how popular and addictive flavored vapors can be for young people.
According to 2018 data, almost 2.4 million middle and high school teenagers say they used a flavored electronic cigarette at least once in the past 30 days, the study found.
Among teenagers, "electronic cigarettes were the most widely used flavor tobacco product in 2018; the use of flavored cigarettes has increased in recent years," according to researchers led by Karen Cullen. She is from the Tobacco Products Center of the US Food and Drug Administration. UU.
In fact, almost two-thirds (approximately 65%) of the nearly 5 million teenagers who used some type of tobacco product in 2018 said they had used a flavored electronic cigarette in the last month. The figures come from Annual National Youth Tobacco Surveys.
Lung health experts said the numbers are worrisome, because any product that contains nicotine that comes in fruits, candies, or other flavors can be a gateway to life-long addiction.
"To make vaping more attractive, flavors have been introduced in the manufacture of trademarks and black market products," said Dr. Len Horovitz, pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"Young people are attracted to flavorings, but as they get older, they add other substances such as nicotine and THC," he added. THC is the chemical in marijuana that provides a stop.
And an even more frightening problem is emerging: cases of serious lung injuries related to vaping. According to the latest figures, more than 2,600 cases of this type have occurred this year in the United States, including 55 deaths.
The alleged culprit is vitamin E acetate, an additive used in some vaping products.
In response to the youth vaping epidemic and the recent wave of lung injuries related to vaping, many state governments have already moved to ban flavored electronic cigarettes.
Cullen and his colleagues believe that such efforts can help. They point out that after New York City initiated an almost total ban on the sale of many flavored cigarettes and "chewable" products in 2009, cigarette sales fell 12%, even when sales increased in other parts of the nation.
Juul, by far the largest marketer of vaping products in the United States, announced earlier this fall that it would stop producing most of its flavored electronic cigarettes.
A pulmonary health specialist agreed that something should be done to prevent children from having a nicotine addiction for life.
"Many young people admit that flavored electronic cigarettes are the main reason they started vaping," said Dr. Mina Makaryus, a lung specialist at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York.
"Given the addictive nature of nicotine, these young people are now addicted to nicotine at a very young age, and are more likely to continue using electronic cigarettes and even start smoking regular-burning cigarettes in the future," he said.
Makaryus hopes "more states will start banning flavored electronic cigarettes. It is also necessary to increase the regulation of electronic cigarettes by the FDA, including their commercialization and the goal of minors."