The Trump administration has announced a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette cartridges, save for menthol and tobacco, in an attempt to stem the rapid rise of teen vaping.
The new policy, released on Thursday, gives companies 30 days to cease the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of the unauthorized flavors. It applies only to cartridge vapes, and not the larger refillable tank systems that are sold in vape shops.
The ban represents a dialed back version of a more sweeping proposal to ban all flavors. Floated by the president last year, it was strongly opposed by the e-cigarette industry and the pro-Trump vaping crowd.
In a statement, incoming FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the new rules attempted to strike a balance between "the urgency with which we must address the public health threat of youth use of e-cigarette products [and] the potential role that e-cigarettes may play in helping adult smokers transition completely away from combustible tobacco to a potentially less risky form of nicotine delivery."
Public health advocates say the changes do not go far enough in combatting the youth vaping craze. A recent survey found that more than 25 percent of high school students reported using an e-cigarette within the past month.
“Only the elimination of all flavored e-cigarettes can end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarette companies from luring and addicting kids with flavored products,” said Matthew Myers, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
In theory, the new ban will not have any impact on Juul, which recently announced that it was pulling all of its flavor options except tobacco and menthol (in reality, those cartridges remain readily available at plenty of local delis). New York City's ban on non-tobacco vaping products is set to take effect in July.
But some vaping advocates said that, while the initial restrictions would've been far more devastating, the final proposal could contribute to a growing black market for vape products. "Unless the FDA truly ramps up enforcement, there are going to be actors very happy to fill in the holes created by this policy," Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told Gothamist.
"New York City already set itself up to have a gigantic black market with their flavor ban," he added. "At the national level, there is absolutely going to be new black markets created by this one."