US President Donald Trump has announced that his administration will ban flavoured e-cigarettes, after a spate of vaping-related deaths.
Mr Trump told reporters vaping was a “new problem”, especially for children.
US Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would finalise a plan to take all non-tobacco flavours off the market.
There have been six deaths across 33 states and 450 reported cases of lung illness tied to vaping.
Many of the 450 reported cases are young people, with an average age of 19.
Michigan this month became the first US state to ban flavoured e-cigarettes.
Joining Mr Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Mr Azar said it would take the FDA several weeks to distribute the new guidance on e-cigarettes.
He also said the agency would take enforcement action if they determined children are being intentionally attracted to e-cigarettes.
US First Lady Melania Trump this week tweeted that she was “deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children”.
I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children. We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth. @HHSGov
End of Twitter post by @FLOTUS
She was present at Wednesday’s announcement alongside the president, Mr Azar and FDA officials.
What did Mr Trump say?
Mr Trump told reporters his administration would implement strong rules to protect “innocent children”, including his 13-year-old son Barron.
“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” he said.
“That’s how the first lady got involved. She’s got a son, together, that is a beautiful young man and she feels very, very strongly about it.
“She’s seen it. We’re both reading it, a lot of people are reading it. But people are dying with vaping so we’re looking at it very, very closely.
He added that he hoped the announcement would make parents become “tougher”.
“People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going be a lot tougher with respect to their children,” said the president.
“A lot of people think vaping is wonderful, it’s great. It’s really not wonderful.”
What has the FDA said?
In a press release shortly after Mr Trump’s announcement, the health secretary said officials “will not stand idly by” as a generation become addicted to nicotine.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr Ned Sharpless praised the “bold approach” adding that “if we see a migration to tobacco-flavored products by kids, we will take additional steps to address youth use of these products”.
Health officials are still investigating whether a particular toxin or substance is causing the vaping-related illnesses, or whether it’s the result of heavy usage.
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