WASHINGTON (From CBS News) -- President Donald Trump said Wednesday that a ban on most flavored vaping products is the right response to what health officials call an "epidemic" of e-cigarette use by teenagers. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the FDA will soon issue guidance on how to take flavored vaping products off the market, targeting products they believe are especially appealing to kids.
But CBS News has learned that any real crackdown is likely a long way off, since it will take weeks for the FDA to release its final rule. Even then, companies will have time to respond.
"There'll be legal challenges, because this is a big market," said Dr. Elizabeth Rosenthal, editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News.
Rosenthal added that those challenges could trip the process up. "They're gonna have pressure from the health advocates on one side, and from the industry on the other to do something," she said. "And trying to walk that line is gonna be really tough."
The president made his foray into e-cigarette policy after a recent surge in illnesses possibly linked to vaping has grabbed the attention of lawmakers, regulators and parents. A survey taken in 2018 showed about 1 in 5 high school students used e-cigarettes. That's more than three million kids, 78% more than the year before.
More than two-thirds of those teenage vapers used flavored products. And while the recent spike in serious lung illnesses may involve combining vaping with substances like THC, the administration plans to ban most flavored vaping products to make them less appealing to children.
"It's very dangerous. Children have died. People have died," Mr. Trump said Wednesday, adding "But we can't allow people to get sick. And we can't have our youth be so affected."
"We simply have to remove these attractive flavored products from the marketplace until they secure FDA approval," said Secretary Azar.
And in a rare foray into public policy, the first lady has expressed her concern about the issue on Twitter. "She's got a son, together, that is a beautiful young man and she feels very, very strongly about it," Mr. Trump said.
The CEO of Juul, the biggest e-cigarette company in the U.S., spoke with "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil in August. When asked what he would say to parents whose teens used Juul's products, CEO Kevin Burns said that "I'm sorry that their kids are using the product. But there's never an intent on the company's part to target youths."
In a statement, Juul told CBS News that "we strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective."
The FDA would allow tobacco flavored e-cigarettes to remain available for adults trying to wean themselves off other tobacco products.
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