Trump to pursue higher sales age for e-cigarettes

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. and then on to Georgia to meet wit... (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. and then on to Georgia to meet wit...
(AP Photo/Jim Mone). FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019 file photo, a man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette. Months into an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses, health officials in October 2019 are still looking at a wide range ... (AP Photo/Jim Mone). FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019 file photo, a man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette. Months into an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses, health officials in October 2019 are still looking at a wide range ...

By MATTHEW PERRONE
AP Health Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

"We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we're going to have an age limit of 21 or so," said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

"We're talking about the age, we're talking about flavors, we're also talking about keeping people working - there are some pretty good aspects," Trump said.

E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade and are often pitched as a lower-risk option for smokers. But there is little research on their long-term health effects.

In a separate event Friday, Joe Grogan, a top policy adviser to Trump, said the White House believes e-cigarettes are "a viable alternative to combustible cigarettes." He suggested the administration's decision on vaping would reflect that potential benefit.

"We really want to make sure we're data driven on this and striking the right balance between adult choice and protecting kids," Grogan told reporters.

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation's largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul's mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support a federal "Tobacco 21" law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any "Tobacco 21" law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason that young people use e-cigarettes.

___

Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AP_FDAwriter

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."