President Donald Trump told reporters that his administration is working on plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored electronic cigarettes. The move comes as a growing number of people are being diagnosed with a mysterious vaping-related illness that's sickened 450 people in 33 states and resulted in at least six deaths.
"We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected," President Trump said in the Oval Office. "People are dying from vaping, so we're looking at it very closely."
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the decision is also aimed at reducing the number of young people who vape. Companies that manufacture the e-cigarettes have been accused of marketing the devices to children by offering a wide variety of flavors.
"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," 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."
It will take the Food and Drug Administration a few weeks to finalize the guidelines, and officials say that if the number of teens who vape continues to rise, they could consider other actions against the companies.
"If we find that children start surging into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes or if we find marketing practices that target children and try to attract them into tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, we will engage in enforcement actions there also," Azar told reporters.
While the federal government works on banning the flavored e-cigarettes, Michigan took action and banned the products from being sold in stores and online. San Francisco also banned the sale of all electronic cigarettes in the city.
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