The Trump administration announced plans Wednesday to clamp down on flavored e-cigarettes amid growing concerns over their impact on the health of users, especially the children to whom they often appeal.
Speaking with reporters outside the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that so-called “vaping” products were “dangerous” and “addictive” for the estimated five million children who use them.
“The Food and Drug Administration intends to finalize enforcement guidance which will require that any flavored e-cigarette products, not including tobacco flavor, be removed from the market until they apply for and secure approval,” said Azar.
According to Azar, such e-cigarette flavors as mint, menthol, bubble gum and mango appealed to youngsters and act as a “gateway” to smoking regular cigarettes, which typically contain more nicotine and other harmful substances.
Azar announced the plan after talks with U.S. President Donald Trump and amid growing fears of an illness that has swept across the country, which has seen worrying numbers of otherwise healthy young adults admit themselves to hospitals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some 450 cases had been recorded up until Sept. 6, with five separate fatal incidents occurring in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.
“No evidence of infectious diseases has been identified; therefore lung illnesses are likely associated with a chemical exposure,” the CDC said in a statement.
“Initial published reports from the investigation point to clinical similarities among cases. Patients report e-cigarette use and similar symptoms and clinical findings.”