Vaping flavour ban back on table as FDA hands Trump new guidance

Anything short of a ban on nearly all flavours is likely to enrage medical and family groups. (AP pic)

NEW YORK: President Donald Trump could be a step closer to making a decision on whether to ban flavours of e-cigarettes like mango and mint in the US after wavering on the issue for months.

On Monday, the White House received new guidance from the Food and Drug Administration on a potential ban of flavoured vapes, according to the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. A previous submission by the FDA was scrapped by Trump last month.

Anything short of a ban on nearly all flavours is likely to enrage medical and family groups who warn of an epidemic of teen addiction.

On the other hand, conservative and business groups say any wide ban would shutter stores, cost jobs and drive adults to smoke instead. Trump’s political advisers are also wary of alienating voters during his reelection bid.

In September, Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced they would ban all flavours except tobacco, a significant decision that health groups cheered. But Trump watered down his pledge soon after, and later called it merely a “suggestion”.

During a tense meeting at the White House last month, proponents and opponents of flavoured vaping products openly argued with each other in front of the president and reporters invited to observe.

After listening to several of the participants, Trump said that he wanted to “do something for everybody, where everybody’s happy”.

Paul Blair, director of strategic initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform and a proponent of e-cigarettes, said the FDA’s latest submission is another chance for the Trump administration to reevaluate the potential harm to the US$9 billion vaping industry.

A ban “would be the single dumbest regulatory decision of the Trump Administration”, Blair said.

The FDA said it couldn’t comment on the guidance until it’s published, and HHS said there are no updates available.

The public-health advocacy groups Truth Initiative and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.