A Trump administration plan to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes is toothless, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Sunday — adding that the regulations won’t do enough to keep kids from getting hooked.
The Trump plan comes amid an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses among children. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the ban has a critical loophole: companies can reintroduce their kid-friendly flavors to the market with sign-off from the Food and Drug Administration.
“If we are going to tackle the all-out epidemic of youth vaping and the flavor explosion fueling addition and related health issues, the feds cannot go vanilla on a flavor ban,” said Schumer.
“That means limiting and tightening exemptions so companies can’t escape the intent of the policy and bring us right back to square one one month down the road,” Schumer said.
Schumer in March urged the FDA to ban specific flavors of e-cigarettes like “bubble gum" and “fruit punch” that are directly marketed to youths. The agency took some limited action on the issue, and cracked down on some companies that directly advertise to kids.
Last week, Gov. Cuomo announced an emergency statewide ban on most e-cigarette flavors, pointing to federal statistics from 2018 that showed vaping among high schoolers skyrocketed by 160% over the previous four years.
“Who knows where the federal government is?" the governor said. “I’m not going to wait for the federal government.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that e-cigarette use among all age groups nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, from 11.7% of the population to 20.8%.
While his administration mulled a crackdown on e-cigarettes, President Trump earlier this month tweeted that he still likes “the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes.” It’s unclear when the new vaping regulations will be implemented, and whether or not they will come with an option for companies to apply for their flavors to be exempt.
Schumer said the ban on flavored e-cigarettes should not be able to circumvent local regulations, like the one established by Cuomo.
“Bubble gum, cookies and cream, gummy bear have one purpose when combined with an e-cig: hook kids,” said Schumer. “Those flavors shouldn’t be on shelves. The federal ban needs to be framed around that premise or it won’t be as effective.”