The Food and Drug Administration has announced a ban on most flavored vaping cartridges in an attempt to check e-cigarette use among teenagers and children.
In a press release, the FDA said the ban covers fruit and mint flavors, leaving manufacturers only able to produce tobacco or menthol-flavored vaping cartridges. Companies that “do not cease manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes… within 30 days risk FDA enforcement actions,” the statement read.
However, as The Associated Press noted, the new policy will specifically target flavored e-cigarette cartridges or pods. This means larger “tank-based vaping devices,” which are mostly sold in dedicated vape shops, will be exempt.
“By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance by maintaining e-cigarettes as a potential off-ramp for adults using combustible tobacco while ensuring these products don’t provide an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for our youth,” said Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar. “We will not stand idly by as this crisis among America’s youth grows and evolves, and we will continue monitoring the situation and take further actions as necessary.”
The FDA said that the ban comes after the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey concluded that over 5 million U.S. middle and high school students vape, or had vaped within the past 30 days. Additionally, 1.6 million kids said they used e-cigarettes regularly, and almost 1 million used e-cigarettes daily. The FDA cited another study that suggested adolescents were primarily drawn to fruit or mint flavored vape cartridges, as opposed to tobacco or menthol ones. Still, the FDA left open the possibility of taking action against tobacco or menthol vapes should the ban on fruit and mint cartridges prompt a rise in use in the latter.
On top of the ban, the FDA said it would prioritize enforcement of e-cigarette products that seem to target youths with “products marketed with labeling and/or advertising that resemble kid-friendly foods and drinks such as juice boxes or kid-friendly cereal; products marketed directly to minors by promoting ease of concealing the product or disguising it as another product; and products marketed with characters designed to appeal to youth.”
The FDA and Trump administration signaled their intent to ban flavored e-cigarettes earlier this week. The decision, however, came just over a month after President Donald Trump scrapped a proposed vape ban after facing intense backlash from not just the e-cigarette industry, but also diehard vapers. As Rolling Stone reported at a pro-vape rally in November, many e-cigarette users identified as Trump supporters and said they would not vote for him if any flavor ban was passed.