The Trump administration is cracking down on vaping but isn’t pulling any triggers on gun control.
President Trump pledged Wednesday that his administration is moving to outlaw flavored e-cigarettes amid revelations teens are smoking them at an increasing rate, sharply contrasting his foot-dragging on beefed up gun laws despite a recent scourge of mass shootings.
“We’re looking at vaping very strongly. It’s very dangerous. Children have died. People have died,” Trump said in the Oval Office before his Health and Human Services czar, Alex Azar, and acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Norman Sharpless laid out a plan to scrub most flavored vaping products from the market.
Azar and Sharpless said the plan is in the works and that the administration hopes to roll it out in the next few weeks. Under the blueprint, all flavored e-cigarettes would be banned and only allowed back after receiving specific approval from the FDA.
Trump’s pledge to act on e-cigarettes came after the administration released data showing vaping among American teens has skyrocketed in the past two years. An overwhelming majority of the teens use e-cigarettes with fruity flavors.
The vaping crackdown pledge also comes on the heels of health officials in New York and other states reporting that hundreds of e-cigarette users are suffering from mysterious breathing illnesses. No particular device or ingredient has been named as the cause for the illnesses, though marijuana devices are involved in many cases.
Democrats welcomed Trump’s resolve on vaping.
“The toxic cloud of public health questions whirling around vaping and e-cig flavors has finally reached the White House, and it is about time," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “The risks they pose and the damage they are doing, especially to kids, is now an all-out epidemic.”
However, when asked of another pressing public health crisis, Trump wasn’t as eager to act.
“We are working very, very hard together all of us and we’re seeing if we can come up with something that’s acceptable to everybody,” Trump said in the Oval Office when asked point blank if he supports bipartisan legislation moving through Congress that proposes to implement mandatory background checks on all gun purchases.
However, parroting National Rifle Association talking points, Trump appeared to suggest he isn’t prepared to give in to Democratic demands for bans on military-style weapons or other more aggressive gun control measures.
“All of us want to protect our great Second Amendment. It’s very important to all of us,” Trump said.
Congress has long been in gridlock on passing any gun control measures, in large part because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to allow bills to the floor.
McConnell caved a bit in the wake of last month’s horrific mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, saying he’d be prepared to allow a gun control bill on the floor as long as Trump commits to signing it.
However, Trump hasn’t made any commitments and remained evasive Wednesday.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
Gun control advocates were quick to point out the discrepancy in Trump’s priorities.
“One hundred Americans are shot and killed every day in America. At least seven of them are children or teens,” Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts tweeted in response to Trump’s remarks about vaping. “I realize the tobacco lobby didn’t give your campaign $30 million like the NRA did, but gun violence is a national crisis.”