Members of a bipartisan Congressional Caucus to End the Youth Vaping Epidemic urged President Donald Trump Tuesday to follow through on a promise he made more than two months ago to take action to address the spread of youth vaping.
Their letter comes as public health officials continue to investigate a series of vaping-related deaths and as school administrators confront the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers.
“Our children should not be used as guinea pigs by the tobacco industry,” said the letter, signed by 28 U.S. senators and representatives.
At the urging of first lady Melania Trump, the president held an Oval Office meeting in September and said the Food and Drug Administration would move to rein in sales of flavored e-cigarette products—long viewed as especially attractive to teens. At that meeting, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his agency would issue an enforcement policy within 90 days that would ban sales of vaping products with flavors like mint, mango, and bubblegum until they gain FDA approval. Tobacco-flavored products could remain on store shelves, he said, but they would have to be approved by the agency by May 2020.
But last month, Trump reversed course, canceling plans to announce new regulations out of fear of political pushback, the Washington Post reported.
“We have heard from countless parents, teachers, and health professionals in our districts who are concerned about skyrocketing youth e-cigarette use,” the letter continued, urging Trump to “finalize the removal of all flavors from the market pending product reviews by FDA in complete and expedited fashion.”
Some e-cigarette companies, like the makers of the popular Juul device, have halted production of some flavored products. And, amid concerns about unknown health effects, some stores have pulled e-cigarettes from their shelves.
And a growing number of districts have sued Juul and other e-cigarette companies, alleging that vaping is harming their students and disrupting their schools to the point that the districts may recover damages.