In a move that flies in the face of the traditional conservative adherence to small government, the Trump administration followed several left-leaning states’ leads Wednesday in announcing a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes.
The ban, set to go into effect in a few weeks, prohibits the online and in-store sale of all e-cigarettes except the standard tobacco. In a statement following the announcement, President Trump said the move was an effort to curb vaping among youth, pointing to at least half a dozen e-cigarette-related deaths as the reason for government intervention.
“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex 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.”
"We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected," Trump said during a press conference Wednesday.
“People are dying with vaping. So we’re looking at it very closely,” he added.
First Lady Melania Trump also expressed support for the ban, saying in a statement, “I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children. We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth."
States like Michigan and New York, as well as several cities including San Francisco, have already moved to ban e-cigarettes at a state and local level. The most recent death linked to e-cigarettes was a 50-year-old Kansas woman with a history of “underlying medical illnesses” who went into respiratory distress a week after taking up vaping.
While the government moves to ban flavored vapes, the National Institute of Health reports there are an estimated 88,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States each year, including nearly 5,000 persons under the age of 18.