Public health advocates were pleasantly shocked and more than a little skeptical when President Donald Trump this fall announced sweeping plans to end sales of flavored e-cigarettes, after research showed alarming numbers of teenagers getting hooked on vape devices serving up nicotine via kid-friendly sweet fluids flavored like mango or vanilla.
Turns out, the skepticism was well justified. E-cigarette regulations released last week barely resemble what Trump first promised. The kinder, gentler ban covers most flavors (except tobacco and menthol) in e-cigarette devices that use pods, like those manufactured by industry behemoth Juul, but entirely exempts all flavored liquids that vapers can suck into their lungs using devices known as “open-tank systems.”
Flavored e-liquids, even more poorly regulated than pod-based vape devices, are currently sold in every imaginable flavor, including “gummy bear,” “cotton candy” and “s’mores,” in vape shops across America. They aren’t as popular as pod-based devices, but they’re about to become the only option for teens seeking a candy-flavored nicotine fix.
Why did Team Trump undermine a good and easily achieved public health policy goal? Ding ding ding: For months, the president’s political advisers have been warning Trump that angry vapers in battleground states could swing the 2020 presidential race against him if he followed through with a full ban. Anti-regulation lobbyists fumed that banning vape flavors would cripple small businesses.
“Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping,” Trump tweeted in September. Now the counterfeits will remain on shelves, tempting kids with fruit and candy flavors. Public health, up in vapor.
— New York Daily News