The Trump administration is moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid an outbreak of vaping-related lung disease.
On Wednesday, federal health officials briefed President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump about the disease, which the CDC says has left six people dead and more than 450 people sick.
“It’s very new and potentially very bad. There have been deaths and there have been a lot of other problems. People think it’s an easy solution to cigarettes, but turns out that it has its own difficulties,” said President Trump. “Not only is it a problem overall — but really specifically with respect to children.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and acting FDA commissioner Norman Sharpless were in the Oval Office as Trump told reporters about the decision.
Tobacco flavored products will still be available for adults, who are trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, according to Azar. He noted if the FDA sees children are still being attracted to e-cigarettes or if e-cigarettes are being marketed to children, the FDA could take further action.
Azar told reporters he shared new data with the president that shows “continued surging” in adolescent use of e-cigarettes and that children are drawn to flavored cigarettes. Azar said 8 million adults and 5 million children use e-cigarettes.
“An entire generation of children risks become addicted to nicotine because of the attractiveness, appealability and availability of these vaping products,” said Azar.
Trump said he hopes the announcement will raise awareness about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.
“Parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children. A lot of people think vaping is wonderful,” Trump said. “It’s really not a wonderful thing. It’s got big problems. We have to find out the extent of the problem. It’s so new.”
Earlier this week, vape giant Juul came under fire from the FDA over its marketing practices. The FDA slammed Juul for claiming its products were safer than cigarettes.
"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,” said a Juul spokesperson in a statement to Yahoo Finance, in response to the proposed ban.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have urged the administration to take action to curb what federal health officials have called an “epidemic.”
“Vaping targets kids, and these flavors—mint, menthol, gummy bear, Unicorn Milk, lung candy—have been essential to the industry luring children into this new addiction. I will closely review FDA’s guidance. Finally, the FDA is doing its job,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a statement on Wednesday.
Azar said it could take the FDA several weeks to finalize the guidance.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.